Words: Alastair James; pictures: Provided
The UK Government's LGBT Business Champion, Iain Anderson has resigned over the exclusion of trans people in the government's new plans to ban 'conversion' therapy.
Iain, who led Attitude 101's business, financial and legal category last year, accused the government of trying to wage a "woke war" on trans people and for "trying to drive a wedge" between the trans and the rest of the LGBTQ community.
It follows the government's dropping of all plans to ban the debunked practice which were then wound back but without including trans people following a fierce backlash. It has since announced it will carry out "separate work to consider the issue of transgender conversion therapy".
"I feel I have no choice"
In a letter posted on social media, Mr. Anderson, who was appointed in September 2021, says: "It has been the honour of my life to serve as the UK's first ever LGBT+ Business Champion. However I feel I have no choice but to tender my resignation from this role."
This, he says, he does with a "heavy heart" before citing the leaking of the government's plans to drop the 'conversion' therapy ban was "devastating".
"Conversion Therapy is abhorrent," he continues. "Only hours later to see this plan retracted but briefing take place that Trans people would be excluded from the legislation and therefore not have the same immediate protections from this practice was deeply damaging to my work."
He clarifies that his role was not "the LGB champion" and that "now - more than ever - we need tolerance and respect in our national conversations."
He lambasts the government for the leak which happened on International Transgender Day of Visibility and after the first trans-UK MP, Conservative Jamie Wallis came out.
"Trust and belief in the Government's overall commitment to LGBT+ rights has been damaged," he adds.
Speaking exclusively to ITV Iain Anderson says: "Britain needs a strategy for trans people and I can’t see one at the moment. We have a tabloid debate going on about people’s lives. It’s not a respectful debate, it's turned into a woke war. It's turned into a wedge issue... I was LGBT Business Champion not LGB or T, and that’s why I’m walking away."
He has told the broadcaster that he feels "undermined" by the government's double u-turns last Thursday (Trans Day of Visibility) as he'd recently been speaking about the government's supposedly inclusive 'conversion' therapy ban.
Yesterday, more than 80 LGBTQ organisations withdrew their support and involvement in the government's 'Safe To Be Me' conference - the first global LGBTQ conference, due to take place this summer.
Regarding the conference Anderson argues it can't go ahead, saying "trust has eroded". His words echo that of Gendered Intelligence, to who Attitude has spoken.
Anderson adds his exit was "a matter of principle," and that "When you disagree with policy you step away and that’s what I’m doing."
And on Monday, Jamie Wallis expressed his disappointment with the government saying a trans-exclusive ban would be a "broken promise".
3/ I hope the announcement that a separate piece of work will now be done on this issue will be done at speed. If the CT ban passes through parliament without any protections for the transgender community, it cannot be described as anything other than a broken promise.— Jamie Wallis MP (@JamieWallisMP) April 4, 2022
Speaking to Attitude for the 101 issue last December, Anderson said he was going to call out businesses that "only engage in pink-washing rather than doing something meaningful. This needs to be embedded throughout the organisation, not just within the leadership at the top — although that’s important."
A UK government spokesperson has told Attitude: "We thank Iain for his contributions as LGBT Business Champion. The Government has a proud record on LGBT rights and we remain committed to building upon that work with sensitivity and care."