Boris Johnson has been accused of allowing “open homophobia” in his new cabinet after announcing his reshuffle yesterday.

Following the removal of David Mundell as Scotland secretary, there are now no LGBT+ members of the cabinet - but there are a whole load of people who have voted against LGBT+ rights.

Johnson promised to make a modern, progressive Conservative party but his first acts as prime minister don’t exactly support that idea.

Well James, ask and you shall receive…

Here’s a quick rundown of why the Johnson government is controversial

A number of people who have voted against equal LGBT+ rights and same-sex marriage now hold high-profile positions in the government.

The list includes:

  • Gavin Williamson (education secretary)
  • Priti Patel (home secretary)
  • Robert Buckland (justice secretary)
  • Ben Wallace (defence secretary)
  • Jacob Rees-Mogg (leader of the house)
  • Esther McVey (housing minister)

This is especially worrying with Williamson, who will be tasked with resolving a row over protests against relationship and sex education in classrooms at schools in Birmingham.

Other Johnson cabinet ministers have already become involved in those protests.

McVey condemned the protestors during the Conservative leadership election but received criticism for saying parents should be allowed to choose if their children attend lessons which include education on LGBT+ rights.

She said:

If parents want to take their young children – primary school children – out of certain forms of sex and relationship education then that is down to them.

Andrea Leadsom (business secretary) was also widely-criticised for saying parents should be able to choose the moment when their children are “exposed” to classes on LGBT+ rights.

Leadsom has never voted on LGBT issues in parliament but she has made her opposition clear on same-sex marriage by saying she believes marriage “can only be between a man and a woman”.

Boris Johnson

Johnson was once a pro-LGBT+ rebel in the Conservative party.

For example, he voted to repeal Section 28 (which banned the “promotion of homosexuality” in schools) and backed same-sex marriage as the Mayor of London.

However, his writing has contained examples of homophobic slurs and offensive comments.

In an article for the Spectator in 2000, Johnson criticised "Labour's appalling agenda, encouraging the teaching of homosexuality in schools, and all the rest of it."

In his 2001 book, Friends, Voters, Countrymen, he compared same-sex marriage to bestiality, writing:

If gay marriage was OK – and I was uncertain on the issue – then I saw no reason in principle why a union should not be consecrated between three men, as well as two men, or indeed three men and a dog.

And he referred to gay men as “tank-topped bumboys” in a now-infamous 1998 column for The Telegraph.

During the leadership election, Johnson said he would “champion LGBT+ equality, get tough on hate crime and ensure that we break down barriers to a fairer society” if he became prime minister.

But ultimately, actions speak louder than words.

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