Carrie Johnson has revealed she was “moved to tears” when hearing from the victim of a hate crime at a Pride reception in Downing Street earlier this year.
The prime minister’s wife – who is pregnant with the couple’s second child – addressed an LGBT+ Conservatives reception at the Tory conference in Manchester on Tuesday night, during which she described herself as an “ally”.
Mrs Johnson told the packed event, which was also attended by her sister-in-law Rachel Johnson, that her husband was “completely committed” to “protecting those gains” made in past years by the LGBT+ community and “extending them further”.
She said that it was “blatantly untrue” that being LGBT+ and a Tory was “somehow incompatible”.
“The idea that your sexual orientation or your gender identity should determine your politics is now as illogical as saying your height or your hair colour should,” Mrs Johnson said.
“Many of you here tonight helped play a part in the journey our party has taken on gay rights.
“And we can now say with huge pride that it was a Conservative prime minister who delivered equal marriage.
“I want you all to know that we now have a prime minister who is completely committed to protecting those gains and extending them further.
“As a backbencher, Boris broke the whip to vote in favour of repealing section 28.
“He supported same sex marriage. As foreign secretary he lifted the ban on British embassies abroad flying the pride flag.
“And as prime minister he has appointed the great Nick Herbert as his first special envoy on LGBT+ rights and last year extended same sex marriage to Northern Ireland.
“Boris also wanted me to remind you that as mayor he led the pride parade wearing a rather fetching pink stetson, which I think we should encourage him to do again!”
Mrs Johnson, a former Conservative Party director of communications, paid tribute to her husband’s government for “banning conversion therapy, rolling out PrEP on the NHS in England as part of its mission to eliminate HIV transmission, and restoring medals to veterans who had them stripped from them for being lesbian or gay”.
But she also admitted there was “still a long way to go” in securing LGBT+ rights within British society and around the world.
“The LGBT+ community still faces stigma, harassment and discrimination, with hate crime still a fact of life,” Mrs Johnson added.
“I heard myself from the victim of such a crime at the Pride reception we held in Downing Street earlier this year.
“And I have to say I was moved to tears. Around the world, being LGBT+ is still a crime in 71 countries. In 11 countries, it is punishable by death; just because of who you love.”
Mrs Johnson paid tribute to the LGBT+ Conservative group for providing a “support network for their members”.
“Every LGBT+ person must go on their own journey of self acceptance. And that, I can imagine, is not always easy,” she said.
“There will be some people here tonight who are out to their friends, but maybe not to their family.
“Or to their family, but not their work colleagues. There might be some people here who are not out to anyone or questioning who they are.
“Wherever you are in your journey, I can assure you, you are among friends here.”
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