Rishi Sunak has been accused of ‘demeaning’ trans women after he was filmed joking about ‘penises’, according to footage obtained by PinkNews.
The Prime Minister reportedly made the comments during a private party for the 1922 Committee, which represents Conservative backbenchers, on June 5.
He also made a jab against Ed Davey, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, for supporting trans rights, in the clip leaked to the LGBTQ+ news outlet.
‘His spectacular misjudgement and why he’s completely unfit to lead our country,’ Sunak can be heard saying in the video.
Sunak doesn’t name any names, but it appears the PM is talking about Labour leader Keir Starmer.
‘Over the same period of time, you might have noticed Ed Davey has been very busy,’ Sunak continues.
To laughter, he says: ‘Like me, you can probably see that he was trying to convince everybody that women clearly had penises.
‘You’ll all know that I’m a big fan of everybody studying maths to 18, but it turns out that we need to focus on biology.’
Politicians attending the committee party included 1922 Committee chair Sir Graham Brady, veteran’s affairs minister Johnny Mercer, MP for Kettering Philip Hollobone and MP for New Forest West Desmond Swain, PinkNews reported, citing a photograph of the event the outlet had seen.
Sunak’s barb against Davey appeared to be in response to his appearance on LBC’s Nick Ferrari at Breakfast radio show in May.
Davey told the eponymous host that women can ‘quite clearly’ have a penis.
LGBTQ+ campaigners reacted with a mixture of disgust and a lack of surprise at the footage.
Nancy Kelley, CEO of Stonewall, told Metro.co.uk: ‘No minority community should be the butt of a joke.
‘It is incredibly disappointing that the Prime Minister chose to mock trans people in front of his parliamentary colleagues.
‘This is a far cry from his pledge to govern with compassion and would be unacceptable in any modern workplace. The PM should apologise for his actions.’
Gendered Intelligence, a national trans-led charity, said Sunak’s remark is the latest example of the ‘bullying and corruption’ that patterns his government.
‘It’s no surprise to us that a government known for bullying and corruption would demean its own people behind closed doors,’ the charity said.
‘It’s clear that they don’t care – not just about trans people but about any of the UK public.’
When asked about this issue, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: ‘You’ve heard the Prime Minister talk about his enormous compassion and understanding for people questioning their identity and that they should be treated with dignity and respect.’
The spokesperson pointed to the Tory leader’s April interview with Conservative Home, a right-wing blog, to get an idea of his views on this ‘specific issue’.
He told Conservative Home that ‘100%’ of women do not have a penis after Starmer earlier told The Sunday Times that ‘99%’ did not.
That same month, Sunak expressed support for a campaign by the Daily Express against so-called ‘trans-extremism’, as the newspaper described, adding that the subject is ‘personal to me’.
‘When it comes to women’s spaces, women’s prisons, changing rooms, sports, health, I believe that biological sex really matters,’ Sunak wrote.
While Sunak’s LGBTQ+ voting history is limited, his government did open a constitutional rift between Westminster and Edinburgh by blocking Scotland’s gender recognition reforms in January.
The legislation would have made it simpler for trans people to change their legal gender.
The video surfacing also comes as the government prepares to publish its long-awaited policy guidance to schools on supporting trans students.
The plans, due to be published this week, will reportedly include plans to compel schools to inform parents and guardians if their child is trans or non-binary.
Teachers will be instructed not to use a pupil’s name or pronouns until they have obtained permission from their family.
‘Obviously, I can’t get into the political aspects of that,’ Sunak’s spokesperson added of the prime minister’s views on trans rights, ‘but he’s made the same broader point in interviews.’
But for Felix Fern, co-founder of Trans Activism UK, a grassroots campaign group, Sunak’s remarks are ‘predictable’ at best.
‘Whilst Sunak’s “joke” might come as a surprise to the uninitiated, for anyone that has been paying attention to the Conservative’s lazy, ill-educated attitude towards the trans community it’s honestly so predictable that you can’t even feign shock,’ they said.
‘But whilst he is predictable, make no mistake – he is dangerous.’
‘The Prime Minister works for the people, and he is failing us,’ Fern added, ‘the best apology he can deliver now is a general election.’
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