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Almost a third of Boris Johnson's cabinet ministers voted against equal marriage

Britain's new prime minister has assembled the country's most anti-LGBTQ cabinet in years.

2019-07-25

Words: Will Stroude

Less than 24 hours after becoming prime minister, Boris Johnson has already assembled the most anti-LGBTQ cabinets Britain has seen in years.

Despite establishing a personal reputation for being on the socially liberal wing of the Conservative party during his time as an MP (though an apology has never been issued for his use of a series of anti-gay slurs used in the 1990s), Johnson's establishment of a Brexiteer-heavy new group of ministers has led to more than a few appointments of concern to the LGBTQ community.

Based on voting records from They Work For You, we've established that of the 33 ministers sat around the table for Johnon's first cabinet meeting on Thursday morning (25 July) a total of 10 - almost a full third - voted against the introduction of equal marriage in England and Wales in 2013. 

Another, Andrea Leadsom, 'postiviely abstained' by voting both for and against the marriage equality bill in an attempt to scupper it. And while some ministers say their views have changed in the intervening period, others have continued to demonstrate hostility to the LGBTQ community in the years since.

New cabinet ministers who voted against an LGBTQ person's right to marry the person they love include Home secretary Priti Patel; Defence secrtary Ben Wallace; Education secretary Gavin Williamson; Justice secretary Robert Buckland; Welsh secretary Alun Cairns and Culture secretary Nicky Morgan.

Ben Wallace, who now finds himself running the Department of Defence, also voted against making same sex marriage available to armed forces personnel outside the UK in 2014.

Gavin Williamson, who like Wallace doubled down on his opposition to marriage equality by voting against extending it to members of the British military stationed outside the UK, will be in charge of the Department of Education at a time when the government is currently working to implement LGBTQ-inclusive relationships and sex education in schools in England and Wales by September 2020, and when protests against such measures continue to rage outside several schools across the country.

It should be noted that Nicky Morgan, who served as Minister for Women and Equalities from 2014-16, has since said she has changed her mind on marriage equality and now fully backs it.

Clockwise, from to-left: Priti Patel; Jacob Rees-Mogg; Esther McVey; Ben Wallace; Geoffrey Cox; Kwasi Kwarteng; Alun Cairns; Gavin Williamson. Not pictured: Nicky Morgan, Andrea Leadsom, Robert Buckland

Of ministers who will attend cabinet but are not full members, those who voted against marriage equality are: Leader of the Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg; Attorney General Geoffrey Cox; Minister for housing, communities and local government Esther McVey and Minister for business, energy and industrial strategy Kwasi Kwarteng.

Former TV presenter McVey has also been criticsed in recent weeks for saying parents should have the "final say" over LGBTQ-inclusive lessons in schools.

Meanwhile, 'positive abstainer' and Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom said in 2016 that she "didn’t really like the legislation" because of the "hurt" it caused Christians, but that she "absolutely" supports same-sex marriage.

Leadsom was criticsed earlier this year after saying that parents should choose when their children are "exposed" to the existence of LGBTQ people in the classroom.

You can read more about the LGBTQ rights record of Boris Johnson himself here.