Boris Johnson is “completely committed” to protecting gay rights and is looking at “extending them further”, his wife Carrie told a meeting of activists at the Conservative Party conference on Tuesday.
Mrs Johnson told a 100-strong audience including the Prime Minister, his sister Rachel Johnson and Liz Truss, the Foreign Secretary, that as an “ally” of LGBT people, she was “committed to equality and acceptance of everyone, whoever you are and whomever you love”.
The speech in packed bar at the Midland Hotel in Manchester was the first intervention at a party conference by the spouse of a prime minister since Sarah Brown introduced her husband, Gordon, over a decade ago when Labour was in power.
Mrs Johnson told Stonewall’s Pride reception: “The idea that your sexual orientation or gender identity should determine your politics is now as illogical as saying your height or your hair colour should.
“Many of you here tonight have helped play a part in the journey our party has taken on gay rights. We can now say with huge pride that it was a Conservative prime minister who delivered equal marriage in England and Wales.
“And I want all of you to know that we now have a prime minister who is completely committed to protecting those gains – and extending them further.”
Mrs Johnson pointed to her husband’s record as a politician in advancing the cause of gay rights, saying: “As a backbencher, Boris broke the whip to vote in favour of repealing Section 28.
“As mayor of London, he supported same-sex marriage. As foreign secretary, he lifted the ban on British embassies abroad flying the Pride flag.”
The rights Mrs Johnson said were being extended included a commitment to banning conversion therapy, rolling out preventative HIV treatments on the NHS and a restoring “medals to veterans who had them stripped from them for being lesbian or gay”.
Mrs Johnson told how her husband wanted to “remind you all, that as mayor he led the Pride parade wearing a rather fetching pink Stetson, which I really think we need to encourage him to do again at some point soon.”
She added: “But for all the progress we have made as a society, we know there is still a long way to go.
“The LGBT community still faces stigma, harassment and discrimination, with hate crime still a fact of life. I heard myself from the victim of such a crime at the Pride reception we held in Downing Street earlier this year and it moved me to tears.”
‘Every LGBT person must go on their own journey of self-acceptance’
She added: “That’s why it’s so important that the UK will be hosting its first ever global conference on LGBT rights next year.”
Mrs Johnson added: “Every LGBT person must go on their own journey of self-acceptance and that, I can imagine, is not always easy.
“There will be some people here tonight who are out to their friends but 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.”