PM appoints ‘special envoy’ for LGBT rights after disbanding advisory panel

New role created weeks after equalities minister disbanded advisory panel, after three members quit
New LGBT envoy Nick Herbert. Photo: PA images

By Jim Dunton

19 May 2021

Prime minister Boris Johnson has created a new role of special envoy on LGBT rights and appointed former Home Office minister Lord Nick Herbert to the post.

Downing Street said Herbert, who was policing minister from 2010 to 2012, would “lead efforts to champion LGBT equality at home and abroad” in addition to chairing the Safe to be Me global equality conference in June next year.

His appointment to the special envoy role comes weeks after equalities minister Liz Truss disbanded the government’s LGBT+ advisory panel. The move followed members of the panel quitting as they accused ministers of ignoring the body’s advice and creating a culture of hostility towards LGBT+ people.

No.10 said Herbert would bring together the government’s domestic work on LGBT issues and “supercharge” the nation’s global leadership on LGBT rights. It said the domestic work would include progressing legislative reform, tackling violence and discrimination, and ensuring equal access to public services for LGBT people

Johnson said Herbert was already leading the work on the Safe to be Me conference brilliantly and would take up his new envoy role immediately.

“I have always been immensely proud to live in a country that is one of the most progressive and liberal when it comes to LGBT equality,” the prime minister said.

“The freedom to love who you want is a key British value and a vital component of any democracy.

“The pandemic has however exacerbated the existing inequality LGBT people experience globally, with violence and discrimination a daily reality for some. The UK government, with our international partners, believes this is the time to take collective, global action.”

Herbert said the UK had an important role to play in leading international efforts to tackle the violence and discrimination against LGBT people and could use its “immense soft power” as a global force for good on the issues.

In addition to his conference and parliamentary work, Herbert is also chair of the Commission for Smart Government.

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