Leading figures from the LGB Alliance will meet cabinet ministers, Conservative councillors and Police and Crime Commissioners this week after the Conservative Party supported the group’s application to have a stand at this year’s party conference exhibition hall.
A similar request by the LGB Alliance for a stand at the Labour Party conference in Brighton last week was rejected. Bev Jackson from LGB Alliance told Lesbian and Gay News: “It is regrettable that Labour declined our request for a stand, especially given the large number of our supporters who are past or present members of the Labour Party. However, the tide is clearly turning and we hope to be present at several party conferences next year.” Jackson emphasised that LGB Alliance is “non-party-political and would naturally like to have a presence at all party conferences.”
Announcing their stand at the Conservative conference, LGB Alliance said on Twitter: “We’re holding the Government to account at next week’s Conservative Party Conference.” The group added: “We exist to promote the rights of people attracted to others of the same sex. We’re sure you agree that shouldn’t be controversial. We believe in free and robust debate, and the importance of policy being based on evidence.”
The LGB Alliance, which has recently gained charity status and supports lesbian, gay and bisexual people’s sex-based rights, invited ordinary Conservative party members “to drop by our stall and have a chat. We love to dispel myths.”
The LGB Alliance’s stand will be near the LGBT+ Conservatives stand and its chair Elena Bunbury was critical of the party’s decision to grant the LGB Alliance access to the conference. She said LGBT+ Conservatives had received online abuse from trans activists following the announcement.
Bunbury tweeted: “There’s a lot of abuse being sent to @LGBTCons about LGB Alliance being at conference. I’d suggest you ask yourself if that’s really helping anyone and remind yourself we have no say over it.
“Just because we don’t issue a saving face tweet doesn’t mean we’re not working hard BTS. Sending me death threats isn’t going to change the fact that they’re there.”
But in a further escalation Bunbury went on to imply the presence of the LGB Alliance stand was a threat to LGBT+ Conservatives’ trans members: “We’re already hurting from the announcement and trying to understand what has happened. Your death threats will do nothing to help protect our trans members we’re already working hard to safeguard.”
LGBT+ Conservatives have organised a range of fringe events at the conference including a dinner with former MP Edwina Currie on Saturday evening and a discussion of global LGBT+ rights in preparation for the government’s “Safe To Be Me” international conference in June next year on Sunday afternoon.
Newly appointed Equalities Minister Mike Freer, who is also a trade minister, will be speaking along with Stonewall head Nancy Kelley and London Assembly Member Andrew Boff.
On Sunday evening the group will be hosting an “LGBT+ Pride Reception in partnership with Stonewall” where the Prime Minister’s wife Carrie Johnson will be guest of honour and will give a speech about “the importance of defending LGBT+ rights”. This will be a rare public intervention by Johnson, the Conservatives’ former director of communications, who is pregnant with her second child with the Prime Minister.
As an alternative to the Stonewall-driven agenda, women and lesbian and gay Conservative party activists who support sex based rights will be able to attend fringe meetings being organised by Baroness [Emma] Nicholson, a former Conservative MP. The author of Trans, journalist Helen Joyce, broadcaster Julia Hartley-Brewer, Dr Kate Coleman from Keep Prisons Single Sex, Dr Nicola Williams from Fair Play For Women and Lisa Townsend, the Conservatives’ Police and Crime and Commissioner for Surrey will be speaking at Baroness Nicholson’s “Children & Women First” fringe events.
The Conservative Party’s conference is being held at Manchester Central from Sunday to Wednesday this week and the exhibition floor where the LGB Alliance and LGBT+ Conservatives’ stands are located is used by delegates to get to the main auditorium from where Boris Johnson and his ministers will address party members.