Gary Powell: Why flying the right rainbow flag matters

23 Jul

Cllr Gary Powell is a former councillor in Buckinghamshire.

Cllr Martin Tett, the Leader of Conservative Buckinghamshire Council, authorised the hoisting of the standard rainbow Pride flag at the authority’s offices on Global Pride Day, June 27th, in line with the Council’s policy on inclusivity. However, the flag that was instead raised, with its superimposed triangular design celebrating inter alia hard-line transgender ideology, was the “Progress Pride Flag”. This design emerged in 2018 and, whatever its original intention, has come to be associated with the militant extreme gender movement. Its ideology champions a version of identity politics that is particularly harmful to lesbian and gay people, to women’s sex-based rights, and to child safeguarding: topics about which I have written previously in these pages.

As a gay man, a conservative, and someone who has campaigned over four decades for fairer treatment and greater acceptance of lesbian and gay people, it is with considerable dismay and horrified incredulity that I have observed the emergence of a new extremist LGBTQ+ movement over the past ten years: one now in full colonisation and cancel-culture mode. This new movement insists aggressively that there is an untestable but objectively real entity called “gender” that is more important than biological sex, and that anyone should be allowed to declare his or her “gender” on the basis of self-identification alone, conferring all the legal and social rights and protections of the biological sex with which that “gender” is deemed to correspond. Where this unscientific insanity is allowed to prevail, it puts men and boys in women’s and girls’ protected environments and categories, and it gives any predatory non-trans-identified man the legally-protected opportunity to pretend he identifies as transgender so he can freely access those spaces with ulterior motives.

LGBTQ+ ideology also promotes the redefinition of homosexuality as “same-gender attraction” rather than “same-sex attraction”, leading in particular to biological men with penises invading lesbian dating sites while claiming to be lesbians, and same-sex oriented people being called “transphobes” and “bigots” when we insist we are only attracted to people of our own sex, not to people of the opposite sex who identify as our “gender”. This attempt to redefine our sexual orientation out of existence is, of course, the very opposite of “gay rights”.

The modern LGBTQ+ lobby also insists, in this social pandemic of real or designer gender dysphoria and transgender identification, that children can give informed consent to puberty-blockers: drugs that almost always lead to cross-sex hormones and that are a passport to sterilisation, lifetime medical patient status, sexual stimulation impairment, and possibly also to drastic surgical procedures. No gay rights activist should ever campaign for measures that are misogynistic, homophobic, and contemptuous of basic child safeguarding. Yet across the West, a sea of LGBTQ+ activists refuse to recognise the serious harm they are causing, and to desist from it. It is staggering that President Biden and his administration rank among the worst gender fanatic poseurs on the planet: an indicator of how serious and widespread the problem is.

As a recently-retired Member of Buckinghamshire Council, it was a cause of considerable surprise and consternation for me to see the Council’s tweet championing that flag, together with the words:

Flying the flag yesterday for #GlobalPrideDay! Showing our support for our LGBTQ+ staff, communities and residents in Bucks. #PrideMonth #LoveWins”

A new flag outside a government building can, of course, be a signal of colonisation, so I wondered whether the ideological capture of the increasingly woke Conservative Party hierarchy by extreme gender ideology had made new inroads. Indeed, the Prime Minister’s recent Pride Reception at 10 Downing Street was one to which Stonewall were pointedly invited, according to Lord Herbert – the Government’s first special envoy on LGBT rights. As many readers will already know, Stonewall is the notorious extreme gender ideology outfit that is regularly slated in quality newspapers. At the same time, the maligned and misrepresented LGB Alliance – the only UK charity dedicated to campaigning for lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) rights while opposing gender extremism – were left off the Pride Reception guest list by the Prime Minister. Proof, if any were needed, that the Government had simply thrown an unreconstructed rainbow genderfest.

Our Conservative Prime Minister is causing immense harm by feting Stonewall: and this, in the face of all the excoriating media publicity and objections to taxpayers’ money being wasted on an organisation that many lesbian and gay people from across the political spectrum are now demanding should be defunded and ostracised.

Even though Lord Herbert has stated there are areas of disagreement, such as on gender self-identification, between the Government and Stonewall, the Stonewall that he claimed “has done brilliant work over the years to promote equality” is the Stonewall of yesteryear: not today. Now, its obsession is to promote extreme gender ideology: so why are the Government and Lord Herbert empowering a rancid organisation that is well past its use-by date and set to cause increasing sickness in the society where its toxic product is consumed – or rather, force-fed? Who on Earth is advising the Prime Minister to behave like a woke apparatchik?

However, amidst all this gloom, at least there was reassuring news concerning the Progress Pride Flag outside Buckinghamshire Council’s offices. Cllr Tett explained to me that he had definitely not agreed to the hoisting of this more controversial version of the Pride flag, that he had taken up the matter with his Comms team, and that he did not intend for this particular flag to be flown again.

So Buckinghamshire has not fallen. Indeed, unlike Conservative Surrey County Council, Buckinghamshire Council is not wasting taxpayers’ money on Stonewall’s much-criticised Diversity Champions scheme, either – which I compare to the selling of indulgences under Pope Leo X. Other Conservative administrations across the country might care to watch out for what flag is raised on Global Pride Days. The LGBTQ+ lobby has been very successful at insinuating its ideology by stealth, under the radar; and watchful eyes are needed in local authorities and everywhere else.

While central Government and Lord Herbert entertain and flatter Stonewall, they are failing to provide our nation with what we desperately need: unequivocal, wise, and courageous leadership, together with action to protect the basic civil rights and liberties of vulnerable groups in the face of an extreme identity politics onslaught. A Government’s first priority should be to protect its citizens from harm.

Many left-wing people – particularly women – are now even declaring their intention to vote Conservative because of this specific crucial issue, on which the other main parties have sold out completely. If the Government continues with its shifty and pusillanimous appeasement of Stonewall, however, these leased-out votes will be retracted. Furthermore, the years leading up to Brexit should surely have taught the Conservative hierarchy a stark lesson in what happens when they abandon their grassroots supporters. The Conservative Party now risks haemorrhaging votes from grassroots conservatives who abhor spineless creeping capitulation to an extreme gender politics Zeitgeist that is ideologically rooted in the hard left.

We surely did not leave the European Union in order to become Gender Woo-Woo Island; nor for our sovereign Conservative Government to be stuck in timorous thrall to neo-Marxist identity politics.

Gary Powell: Ministers shouldn’t appease the LGBT+ lobby. It doesn’t speak for all gay people – certainly not for me.

13 Apr

Cllr Gary Powell is a councillor in Buckinghamshire.

While China continues on its stratospheric journey as an economic and military superpower, the West preoccupies itself with the new cultural Marxism of identity politics.

Unfettered from the inconvenience of objective reality and scientific verification, this ideology sweeps across the political and social landscape with a degree of contagion matched only by its contempt towards our foundational belief systems, and the rights of anyone too low in the woke pecking order to matter.

A major prong in this identity politics colonisation, the LGBT+ lobby continues to pressure the Government; and the Government, presumably with an eye to increasing the younger vote, looks as though it is wobbling.

Yet who populates this “LGBT+ community”, and on whose authority do LGBT+ spokespeople speak? Although I’m a gay man and a longstanding gay rights campaigner, this lobby doesn’t speak for me. Many lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) people, across the political spectrum, actively campaign against the LGBT+ lobby.

The primary LGBT+ obsession is the introduction and enforcement of extreme gender ideology – which has nothing to do with sexual orientation. Many gay and lesbian people strongly oppose the values and aims of the LGBT+ lobby and do not consent to its claims to speak on our behalf. We are not a homogeneous attitudinal monolith, and the real gay and lesbian community has never elected these strident spokespeople.

How can we support a lobby that has redefined homosexuality to mean “same-gender attraction” rather than “same-sex attraction”, so that gay and lesbian people are now called “transphobes” and “genital fetishists” for asserting our surely unassailable right only to date people of the same biological sex as ourselves?

The LGBT+ lobby is a dangerously anti-gay and misogynistic force, steamrolling over women’s and girls’ sex-based rights and protections, attempting to give intact biological males access to hitherto exclusively female environments and domains, simply on the basis of “transgender” self-identification. It attempts to remove the right of same-sex attracted people to meet and organise exclusively on the basis of our sole shared characteristic of same-sex sexual orientation.

We now often get called “LGBT+” instead of gay or lesbian. Young gay and lesbian people – assailed by a barrage of online transgender grooming, woke LGBT+ school and media indoctrination, and modish peer contagion – are increasingly self-identifying as “trans”, and therefore as heterosexual but in the wrong body, inviting the irreversible risks associated with a possible nightmare journey into hormone blockers, cross-sex hormones and even amputations: a modern form of “conversion therapy” that was examined in a recent piece by Radical on these pages.

The history and language of the historical LGB rights movement – “conversion therapy”, “Section 28” – are being casually misappropriated by an extreme gender movement that is actively undermining our autonomy and identity.

Until around 2015, LGB people had the same unchallenged right as every other social minority group to meet and to organise on the basis of our shared common characteristic, which is sexual orientation and nothing else. However, following gay marriage, some grabby gay rights charities and activists needed a new minority cause to keep the ker-ching in their cash registers and to keep the victim identity bandwagon rolling. Consequently, the “T” (transgender) was added to their campaigns, even though “gender identity” has nothing to do with LGB rights.

This still wasn’t enough, and further groups were added to the expanding alphabetic initialism, representing such phenomena as “asexuality”, “kink”, and the “furry” identity, (something to do with dressing up as a furry animal). The free-for-all “plus” in “LGBT+” is reflected in Stonewall’s current motto: “Acceptance without exception”. Surely a bad maxim that encourages blind acceptance even of things that are harmful.

The LGBT+ lobby’s attempt to impose extreme gender ideology on society also does little to help people with genuine gender dysphoria, who deserve acceptance and support, who do no harm by presenting culturally as the opposite sex while respecting the traditional sex-based boundaries that are in place to protect women and girls, and whose reputation is harmed by association with social engineering, zealotry and overreach.

A ferociously-championed political movement, extreme gender ideology is designed to undermine cultural norms, scientific reality, the connection between motherhood and children, parental rights, and freedom of speech: aspects of society one might reasonably expect the Conservative Party to defend tooth and nail as a party that is meant to be conserving what is good and valuable.

The gay and lesbian community has never agreed to merge its cause with any other group’s cause, or to surrender our right only to date members of the same sex, our right not to make common cause with extreme gender ideology, or our right not to give up our exclusive gay or lesbian spaces. Neither have we agreed to encourage LGB young people to wrongly believe they are transgender and be set on a de facto conversion therapy pathway to self-identified heterosexuality by means of puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones.

The individuals in the sub-categories that this purely hypothetical “LGBT+ community” composite claims to represent do not form a monolith, and we have a right to our own individual views and opinions: that includes the many mainstream, moderate trans people whose own campaign to help people with gender dysphoria and enlighten the public has also been hijacked by victim-culture social engineers pushing an extreme political agenda.

Many gay and lesbian people on the planet do not enjoy even the most basic of gay rights: Western sensibilities over a wedding cake don’t even hit the radar, and pronouns are the smallest beer imaginable. Homosexuality is still illegal in 70 countries, where the death penalty can be imposed in several. In some places, gay people are publicly flogged.

Yet the western LGBT+ lobby remains primarily obsessed with self-indulgent identity politics that will allow natal men to drive a coach and horses through women’s and girls’ sex-based rights and protections and will cause confused, misinformed and traumatised children to wrongly self-identify as trans.

Countries with anti-gay customs and laws can now point to the LGBT+ overreach in the West as an excuse to block basic gay rights reforms at home. The Western LGBT+lobby is harming the rights of gay and lesbian people, children and women across the globe. This is not a movement that deserves appeasement – least of all from conservatives – and there should be no more concessions.

We need Conservative leadership that will stop neo-Marxist identity politics being force-fed to children in British schools, and not a Government of appeasement that abandons conservative principles while nervously and surreptitiously shifting to the woke left in search of votes from an indoctrinated Brave New Generation.

Gary Powell: My councillor handbook for the Census has arrived – with science abandoned for woke identity politics

15 Mar

Cllr Gary Powell is a councillor in Buckinghamshire

The Office for National Statistics (ONS), which plans and conducts the Census, is a Stonewall Diversity Champion. The influence of Stonewall, once a gay rights campaign organisation, but now primarily a champion of extreme gender politics, has apparently become so pervasive that even statisticians seem to be shifting away from a professed belief in objective empirical reality towards the enforced subjective posturing of woke identity politics.

For two hundred years, the decennial Census has asked people to answer whether they are male or female. However, since the last Census, gender identity activists and their captured organisations have been chanting a mantra of “Transwomen are women! Transmen are men!”: surely the latter-day version of 1984’s “War is peace! Freedom is slavery! Ignorance is strength!” Those who chant along – many akin to terrified hostages making filmed statements under duress – know that surrender is the safest option: both for their personal careers and for the financial security of their organisations.

The extreme gender activists who have hijacked the lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) rights movement, rebranding it as an ever-expanding alphabet ending in a “plus”, police their mantras earnestly. Even the mildest offence against the Alphabet Credo can unleash a squall of egomaniac zealots writing e-mails in an attempt to get you sacked or no-platformed, or to cause your organisation economic ruin.

This rampant identity politics colonisation has happened on the watch of Conservative governments, lest we forget. One government department and public body after another has fallen to the LGBT+ lobby: a movement that I, as a longtime gay rights activist, categorically reject and condemn as a dangerous enemy to gay rights, to women’s rights, and to child safeguarding.

Last year, a Times piece declared, “Public bodies pay thousands to join LGBT ‘diversity champion’ scheme” and listed 30 police forces, 57 local authorities and 50 NHS organisations as among Stonewall’s “diversity champion” subscribers, which also included the Cabinet Office, Foreign Office, Department for Education, and the Crown Prosecution Service. Subscriptions begin at £2,500 + VAT, and the Times estimated a yearly bill of £600,000 to the taxpayer.

Public bodies continue to use public money in order to champion a highly-contested political ideology that undermines the sex-based rights of women and girls and dismantles child safeguarding for lesbian, gay, autistic, anorexic, and gender-non-conforming young people. These children are the most vulnerable to capture and self-misidentification by extreme gender propaganda. Not only have Conservative governments failed to prevent this blatant politicisation of publicly-funded bodies: there are even Conservative MPs who actively champion LGBT+ extreme gender ideology.

The most recent example was provided by Penny Mordaunt, the Paymaster General, who transmogrified into the Wokemaster General at the Dispatch Box during the debate on the Ministerial and Other Maternity Allowances Bill, when she declared, “Transmen are men and transwomen are women”. Mainstream, moderate trans activists are as horrified as all other non-hostages at the serious harm being caused by this revision of reality. Many trans people rightly resent the way that extreme identity politics activists have hijacked their very worthy campaign for trans rights that do not impinge on the rights of other groups.

Even as a Stonewall hostage, the Office for National Statistics, with its Census 2021 costing the taxpayer close to £1 billion, might reasonably be expected to try to collect important basic data without sacrificing scientific objectivity to the subjectivity of identity politics. After all, in the booklet the ONS sent out to local councillors, they state:

“Billions of pounds are allocated to local authorities in England and Wales every year using census information […] It’s important that census estimates are accurate so these funds are allocated where they’re needed […] Local authorities use census information to understand service demand, identify pockets of health deprivation and support future care planning […] Our partnerships with local councils will be vital to the success of the census.”

The problem lies in the ONS’s guidance notes on how to answer question 3: “What is your sex?” You can tick one of two boxes: Female, or Male. This should not be rocket science, given that sex is an immutable biological characteristic determined by our sex chromosomes. Respondents are advised to “use the sex recorded on one of your legal documents such as a birth certificate, Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC) or passport”. However, a passport sex marker (male/female) can be changed without a GRC and may not represent the legal sex of the individual. Furthermore, the phrase “such as” implies this question could legitimately be answered according to other documents updated on the basis of self-declaration.

If any discrepancy caused by not collecting accurate sex data is insignificant at the moment, it may not remain so, given the explosion (a 4,500 per cent increase) in transgender-identifying girls over the past decade. More important is the principle. Unless the obvious definitions of biological sex are respected, defended, and clearly established in law, then the sex-based rights and protections of girls and women will continue to be undermined, leading to males competing in girls’ and women’s sport, male-bodied males being allocated to women’s prisons, and the invasion by men (“penis-havers”) of women’s protected spaces, such as hospital wards, hostels, rape crisis centres, public toilets and changing rooms. There is a lot at stake.

A dynamic, women-led cross-political and transnational movement is emerging – the Gender Critical (GC) movement – to challenge the harm caused by extreme gender ideology, its facilitators and its bystanders, with Conservatives for Women at the forefront of this pushback. The GC movement is highly motivated and highly organised, quickly raising large sums of money to take legal action when necessary, and the group “Fair Play For Women” has raised over £100,000 to fund an emergency judicial review of the definition of sex being used in the Census 2021 – (which even as I am writing this, is proving successful).

While the public good has been betrayed by many politicians across the political spectrum, the Gender Critical movement is demonstrating that our rights and freedoms will not be trampled on without the most determined resistance.

Gary Powell: The politicisation of the Metropolitan Police is obvious to many. But the Government is turning a blind eye.

12 Nov

Cllr Gary Powell is a councillor in Buckinghamshire

Last year, I complained to the Met about one “Mark Powell” (no relation), known on Twitter as ‘MarcHayo #FBPE’ (@markhayo). In his Tweet of August 20, Powell had incited terrorist murder, writing:

“I dearly wish a reactivated IRA would successfully blow up that scumbag Johnson and his evil cabinet. At least their useless, morally-empty lives would have served a purpose.”

Any reasonable person would agree that terrorist incitement against politicians should not be taken lightly. In October 1984, the IRA placed a bomb in the Grand Hotel, murdering Sir Anthony Berry, Eric Taylor, Lady Shattock, Lady Maclean and Roberta Wakeham, and injuring many others, including Lord Tebbit and his wife, Margaret.

Now, we will recall that Met officials recently fell over themselves to persecute the conservative journalist Darren Grimes, whose apparent “public order offence” consisted of publishing an interview where his guest made an ill-chosen and disrespectful reference to black people that was probably no more than misfired humour.

Grimes now has a police record: a “hate incident” logged against his name. However, the Met’s enthusiasm to enforce political ideology instead of British law finds a counterpart in cases where people really have committed serious crimes but receive police dispensation, apparently for being on the “correct” side of the political fence.

Back to Powell and his terrorism incitement. My screenshot of his Tweet revealed it had received 47 “likes”, 49 shares, and no fewer than 1,247 replies, the vast majority urging him to delete, or reporting it to the Met’s Twitter account. Perhaps Met officers were too busy kicking down doors for Twitter “misgenderspeak”, or investigating conservative journalists, because, to my surprise, no reports of Powell’s arrest appeared in the media in the following days.

On August 23, I therefore sent a full account to Commissioner Cressida Dick, copied to my MP, providing screenshots and urging police action. My letter was ignored, so I wrote to both again on September 12.

Then Powell helpfully shared on Twitter the letter he had received from the Met:

“I apologise for the unsolicited nature of this letter, and do not wish to cause you any undue alarm. I do need to discuss some sensitive issues that may concern you – I would like to stress that this letter has not been sent as part of any criminal proceedings, nor are you in any trouble whatsoever. If you could, please contact me on the telephone number shown on the letterhead above or my colleague […] in order to arrange a convenient time to meet.”

Note the difference in the Met’s treatment of Powell and Grimes. No interview under caution for anti-Government Powell: he is invited to suggest a “convenient time” for a visit “if you could”, and he even gets an apology for the “unsolicited nature” of the police letter and assured he is not “in any trouble whatsoever”. This is a guy who was inciting terrorists to murder the Prime Minister and his Cabinet.

Powell provided his own commentary when he published the police letter:

“Two local coppers visited me 2 hours’ ago & warned me about my recent intemperate language about our cabinet of vipers, a language from which I refused to recuse myself. To be fair, they were very civil about it, despite the expletives that I threw in their direction.”

Even after the nice officers’ visit, there was clearly no hint of contrition.

On October 3, Cressida Dick’s office informed me the post I had reported was deemed by the National Counter Terrorism Network to be an offence, sharing that, “[b]ased on all of the information available, including the fact that this appeared to be a single criminal post,” their response had been to visit Powell and offer him “words of advice”.

 

However, this was not a “single criminal post”. On September 30, Powell had Tweeted again, posting his letter sent to the officers following their visit, which contained a clear reiteration:

“I should be happy to meet you to explain why I shouldn’t be sorry to see this cabinet of traitors blown up by a rejuvenated IRA, though I don’t intend to contribute to their coffers.”

My report of this to Dick’s office merely resulted in the following stonewall:

“(I)t has been determined that a proportionate and appropriate policing response has been taken.”

The police were clearly determined that this individual was going to be let off without any consequence. Since then, my MP’s office has written three times about this matter to the Home Secretary, yet there has still been no reply. The Metropolitan Police is turning a blind eye to anti-Conservative terrorism incitement, and our Conservative government is turning a blind eye to the Metropolitan Police’s self-evident politicisation. A miserable milestone in the Conservative Party’s own masochistic colonisation by woke, left-wing ideology, which needs to stop.

“Committing a crime while woke and left-wing” is being revised by the Met into a rational impossibility: an oxymoron and paradox that offends the very logic of post-modernist plod.

This long march through the institutions is making cherry-pickers of our law enforcement agencies, where regulation boot-prints leave their impression on the face of fundamental British values, undermining us as a state based on justice and integrity.

Peter Hitchens wrote about the Met and Powell in his Mail on Sunday column a year ago, yet it was ignored by other news outlets. There is no place in Britain for complacent and fatalistic attitudes towards the plundering of our basic freedoms by a vicious woke mob and their ideologically-captured, taxpayer-funded facilitators. Surrender will mean the end of our free society, and we must not give in so easily.

Gary Powell: Why is the Government giving councils £11 million to encourage unprotected sex?

10 Nov

Cllr Gary Powell is a councillor in Buckinghamshire

In his piece for ConservativeHome, Elliot Colburn, MP for Carshalton and Wallington, celebrated the grant of £11.1 million to local authorities to fund a roll-out of “PrEP” (“Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis”). The primary purpose of this drug is to reduce HIV transmission among people engaging in multiple-partner penetrative casual sex without wearing a condom. The manufacturers don their own reputational protection by asserting PrEP should only be used in conjunction with a condom; however, the demand for PrEP in the gay male community is fuelled by men who have unsafe sex with multiple casual sexual partners and who do not like using condoms. The whole point in them taking PrEP is to facilitate unprotected sex: these days called “barebacking”.

Colburn referred to this Government largesse with taxpayers’ money as a “huge breakthrough”, as “something every Conservative can be proud of”, as “PrEP on the NHS”, as a “thing we can celebrate” and as “another thing to be proud a Conservative government has achieved.” Well, I am one gay Conservative who is anything but proud of this politically-driven insanity.

In 1983, nine years before Mr Colburn was born, I was already campaigning for gay rights, at a time when we really did lack them. As President of Oxford University Gay and Lesbian Society I had a particular responsibility to keep our members informed as the terrifying AIDS crisis was breaking. I lost dear friends to AIDS – all of whom became infected before the virus was identified and before there was any advice about using condoms for penetrative sex. As a lentivirus, HIV can sit around in the body for many years before causing illness, which meant that, for several years, many people had become infected, and were infecting others, unwittingly. At that time, HIV infection was a death sentence. Today, antiretroviral medications for life can provide a normal lifespan.

Knowledge about safer sex with condoms in the 1970s and early 1980s would have saved many lives. Condoms are very cheap and are available free at GUM clinics. They are a great and safe alternative to PrEP, dispensing with a long-term daily medication regime that somebody has to pay for, that requires regular clinical monitoring, and that carries long-term risks, including kidney damage and a loss of bone mineral density.

Colburn’s assertion that, “When taken correctly (PrEP) is nearly 100 per cent effective,” is dangerously misleading. The US Center for Disease Control (CDC) informs us that “PrEP reduces the risk of getting HIV from sex by about 99 per cent when taken consistently”. Unlike Mr Colburn, I would not describe 99 per cent efficacy as “nearly 100 per cent effective” when there is a one per cent risk of contracting a potentially deadly virus that will put one on medication for life. If a million men who have sex with men (MSM) ended up on PrEP and took it consistently, exposing themselves to risk, a one per cent failure rate equates to 10,000 HIV infections. You wouldn’t tell someone, if there was a one per cent chance of being attacked by a shark in some waters, that swimming there was “almost 100 per cent” safe. Just as worrying is Mr Colburn’s failure to acknowledge that, for people who inject drugs, PrEP affords a protection rate that may be as low as 74 per cent.

Although condoms can break or slip off, the largest study to date indicates a failure rate of less than one per cent for anal sex and less than two per cent for vaginal sex, so long as appropriate lubrication is used. (A caveat, however: previous studies have suggested higher failure rates.) If a condom does break, and the HIV status of the other person is positive or unknown, people can attend a GUM clinic or hospital A&E department for a 30-day course of Post-Exposure Prophylactic (PEP) (best within 24 hours, certainly within 72 hours). Neither condoms nor PrEP are 100 per cent reliable, but in combination, they provide very good odds. Indeed, when a commitment to avoid anonymous sex with multiple strangers is added to the above, or even – perish the thought! – a commitment to a monogamous relationship with someone you love, then the odds of HIV infection will fall lower still.

The sexually transmitted infection (STI) statistics in the UK are skyrocketing, and not only among men who have sex with men. The MSM statistics, however, are particularly worrying, and the specific concern, in relation to PrEP, is gonorrhoea. The CDC informs us that “Gonorrhoea has progressively developed resistance to the antibiotic drugs prescribed to treat it.”

A 2016 study in the USA estimated that between 1.5 per cent and six per cent of its adult male population had sex with other men. I’m going to take the higher figure and assume six per cent of the adult male UK population are MSM (i.e. gay or bisexual, and sexually active with other men). A 2019 report on STIs by Public Health England revealed that, between 2018 and 2019, gonorrhoea cases among heterosexual men had increased by 17 per cent (from 13,036 to 15,253) and among MSM by 26 per cent (from 26,864 to 33,853). This same MSM group that is at high risk of HIV infection therefore also has a colossally higher number of gonorrhoea infections. Condoms are very effective at preventing gonorrhoea, and the figures clearly point to a worrying lack of condom use by a section of MSM.

The MSM raw infection numbers are alarming. MSM (remember: only around six per cent of the male adult population) had 33,853 gonorrhoea infections, while the whole male heterosexual population had 15,253 infections. If heterosexual males had been infected with gonorrhoea at the same rate as MSM, the UK adult male population would have had 564,216 infections. Just let that sink in.

Instead of championing PrEP as a milestone in LGBT+ activism, the Government would be wise to encourage people to limit their casual sexual partners and to commit to safer sex using condoms, with PrEP for condom failure. If antibiotic prescriptions to treat gonorrhoea infections continue to climb, so will the risk of antibiotic-resistant gonorrhoea becoming a future global pandemic.

Gary Powell: Local Authorities must play their part in defending freedom of speech and religion

28 Oct

Cllr Gary Powell is a councillor in Buckinghamshire

The many readers of ConservativeHome involved with local authorities, as elected Members, as officers, or as employees in any other capacity, should not underestimate the potential influence we have in protecting the basic freedoms that underpin British values: freedoms that are now under serious attack and that will continue to be eroded in a most egregious way, unless a solid and sustained conservative resistance to that attack emerges soon.

Local authorities and local Conservative associations reflect a microcosm of what is happening to the Conservative family nationally, with many officials and activists clearly too scared to express in public, the conservative political opinions they actually hold. Even as much as “liking” someone else’s post on social media containing an opinion at variance with the current leftist orthodoxy is often viewed as too risky. Indeed, it really is risky, as the Labour MP, Rosie Duffield, discovered when she dared to “like” a post by Piers Morgan in which he had suggested that “people with a cervix” should actually be called “women”. The Salem rent-a-mob went into a frenzy, with demands that wicked Ms Duffield should have the Labour whip withdrawn and suffer party expulsion.

If we Conservatives allow the barnpot Left to set the political agenda and impose their own ideology as the unassailable cultural norm, then we seriously diminish the responsibilities of officials elected to local and national government. Political government involves much more than administrative practicalities. We should also be ensuring – particularly as conservatives – that we are acting robustly to protect the rights of women, the safeguarding of children, and the inviolability of individual liberty. This requires us to speak out courageously and challenge zealots and conformist opportunists who trample on the basic human rights of our citizens. If the Conservative Party no longer has the stomach for defending basic civil liberties and the rule of law, then we can be sure another party on the Right of the spectrum will eventually emerge to take on that responsibility, arriving as the adults, committed to restoring order and to offering protection from the bullies who have been kicking us around with impunity.

The German expression “mundtot machen” – making someone “mouth-dead” – aptly describes what we are currently witnessing in British society – indeed, in western societies – when people are silenced by coercion. This has its own version of pandemic contagion. It is a compelled oral necrosis: a rapidly-spreading pathology that threatens to kill the soul of our society and of the rest of western civilisation via death by a thousand cuts.

Our politicians, media, police, and judiciary are hosts that are well on the way to colonisation by this infectious agent that is spread and maintained by fear and bullying. So many of the very people charged with protecting our freedoms have become either enforcers of the new mouth-dead orthodoxy, or else timid or opportunistic bystanders, watching on while good people are sacked, vilified, and silenced, for the crime of having the “wrong” opinions. A “wrong” opinion, by the way, is any opinion that is offensive to the dominant section of today’s identity-politics-obsessed Left.

Take the recent case of the school pastoral assistant, Kristie Higgs (44), who was dismissed for “gross misconduct” from Farmor’s School in Fairford, Gloucestershire, after an anonymous individual (remember the Stasi?) reported Mrs Higgs to her employer for expressing wrongthink about LGBT+ sex and relationship “education”. Mrs Higgs had aired her views in a relatively small private social media network. She is a Christian, and she took the school to an employment tribunal on the basis that she had suffered discrimination because of her religious beliefs. Religious belief is supposed to be a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010: however, the tribunal ruled that the school had been warranted in dismissing her and attempted to justify its twisted ruling by claiming the dismissal was related not to her religious beliefs, but instead to the fact that her posts could lead others to believe she had “unacceptable” views about lesbian, gay, and trans people.

The very foundation of freedom of speech and of religious belief is surely the legally-protected right to hold and express beliefs that some others – or even many others – may find “unacceptable”. Otherwise, your religious beliefs are no longer a protected characteristic. My impression, I am appalled to say, is that Christians tend to be singled out for special mistreatment where inconsistency in applying the law is concerned, so your odds might be better if your religion is not Christian, should you express socially conservative beliefs anywhere and get grassed up to the Politburo.

A further similar recent example is that of Maya Forstater, who lost her job after opining on her private social media account that it is impossible to change biological sex. The employment judge found that Ms Forstater had been dismissed fairly, because her view was “not worthy of respect in a democratic society”. So the Ministry of Truth seems to think that a belief in basic biology is “not worthy of respect” to the extent that you and your children deserve punishment by being deprived of your income stream; whereas, by contrast, it apparently is “worthy of respect” to believe the law should be changed in a way that allows any non-trans male-bodied rapist to mendaciously self-identify his way into women’s changing rooms.

This topic of cultural Marxism evokes a detail in Brecht’s “The Caucasian Chalk Circle”, where the eccentric and unwilling judge, Azdak, symbolically uses the unjust statute book of the ancien regime to sit on, instead making judgments according to his best insights, which generally lead to fairer outcomes. Yet our Statute Book serves us far better than the convoluted post-modernist justifications of ideologically-captured judges. While such judges sit contemptuously on our Statute Book, we Conservatives must not sit timidly on our hands. If we continue to lose our freedoms, many of today’s bystanders will discover that, despite their cooperation with the witch-hunters, the hands they once sat on will not be spared the manacles.

Gary Powell: Conservative councillors should strongly oppose extreme-Left gender politics

7 Sep

Cllr Gary Powell is a councillor in Buckinghamshire

Peter Hitchens, who has described the Conservative Party as “the main Left-wing party in the country”, once told me on Twitter that the Conservative Party would end up disappointing me one day. Simple words, but they stuck with me, and I grudgingly sensed their prescience at the time. Disappointment, of course, is a ubiquitous characteristic of the human condition and need not necessarily lead to the abandonment of a fundamentally positive organisation or person. Otherwise, how would any of our relationships survive or endeavours continue? There are times, however, when disappointment becomes nuclear. That’s the time to cut and run.

Last year, Peter Hitchens wrote about my futile attempts (second item) to encourage the Metropolitan Police to arrest a man (coincidentally also called “Powell”) who had incited a murderous terrorist attack on Boris Johnson and his Cabinet. This incident demonstrated the ideological degradation of the Metropolitan Police (one of so many similarly-blighted entities) on the Conservative watch. No criticism is implied here of the many long-suffering and heroic police officers enduring the imposition of noxious leftist ideology from above.

We should be very concerned about the state of the UK’s politicised police forces today, where one person can be admonished and given a disclosable police record for expressing a simple belief in biological reality, whereas another person can call on terrorists to blow up the Prime Minister yet be assured he is “not in any trouble whatsoever” and even apologised to for the “unsolicited nature” of the Police letter. My consequent two letters of complaint (the second a chase-up) to the Home Secretary via my MPs elicited concerned replies from my MPs but no response from the Home Office. As Wittgenstein said, “That whereof we cannot speak, thereof we must remain silent.”

My great hankering is for the Conservative Party to behave like a conservative party. A large majority of its members seem, like me, to be political conservatives, and it still remains a far better option than the other left-wing alternatives. Yet Conservative governments have presided over a society that is becoming increasingly left-totalitarian, like absentee landlords whose house is being trashed without them realising or perhaps even caring.

Why have our local authority schools been allowed to become left-wing indoctrination centres, where child safeguarding is abandoned to make way for imposed gender ideology extremism championing non-binary-beings and biologically male “lesbians” with penises and beards, promoted by socialist pedagogues high on virtue-signal flavoured dopamine? These indoctrinated children are the voters of the future. They also include many gay and lesbian people of the future who will become sterilised by hormones, mutilated by amputations, and groomed into believing they are transgender (and hence heterosexual) when they are not.

The kind of tedious left-wing “woke” ideology I regularly hear spouted in council meetings and elsewhere is bad enough when it comes from opposition parties. For very many members and voters, I suspect, the gradual ideological capture of the Conservative Party by this ideology will serve as a reminder that parties such as UKIP and the Brexit Party can do extremely well when the electorate is pushed too far. The Brexit Party is still waiting watchfully in the wings, lest we forget.

Does today’s Conservative Party really need to indulge in so much appeasement, when most of those whom they try to keep sweet would never vote for us anyway? It feels as though the Left is being allowed to set the agenda with forceful, confident assertion of its ideologies, while the Conservative Party hesitates to counter with the equivalent confident assertion of conservative values. Instead, the Conservative Party seems to be appeasing the Left’s agenda and adapting itself to it. As though winning votes at any cost were more important than winning hearts and minds to conservative values.

Following the demise of foundational belief systems in the West, some terrifying dogmata are emerging to fill the void. Extreme gender ideology is one of them. The kind of grip that this hatefully intolerant and dangerous ideology is inflicting on the West particularly harms women, gay and lesbian people, people with high-functioning autism, and children, and Stonewall has been its main driver in the UK since 2015, once legal equality had been achieved for gay and lesbian people, and Stonewall needed a new fundraising cause.

Today, no matter how much you defend the legitimate rights and dignity of transsexual people, merely stating there is an insuperable biological difference between men and women is enough to get you sacked, silenced, no-platformed, labelled a “transphobe”, and accused of “hating trans people”. Don’t expect any respectful and measured discussion: you are the Salem’s witch of the 21st Century, and you must be silenced and punished, robbed of your livelihood, have your life destroyed and any crowdfunder to defend your human rights taken down.

We desperately need our Conservative Government to defend freedom of speech and children’s safeguarding against this extreme ideology and its activists, and to enforce the public sector equality duty to protect the rights of women, girls, and of gay, lesbian and autistic children, who are particularly vulnerable to gender identity grooming and indoctrination.

While genuinely transsexual people must be protected from unfair discrimination, to be sacked simply for saying that biological men cannot become biological women is outrageous. The Government also needs to ensure, inter alia, that transwomen (i.e. biological men) convicted of physically or sexually abusing women or children or viewing child abuse pornography, must be reported in the media as male, and not female. These are crimes overwhelmingly associated with men. It is an outrage to women, as well as to statistical crime analysis, to see such criminals recorded and reported as “women”.

Instead, we now see our Conservative Government dithering over whether or not to steer British society into the post-modernist dystopia of extreme gender ideology. Some Conservative MPs actively promote this ideology, clearly lacking any understanding of the harm it causes.

In our Party, appeasement, assimilation, and virtue-signalling, seem to be replacing intelligent thought and principled conservative activism. Meanwhile, many of Britain’s conservatives may soon be ready to weigh anchor.

Gary Powell: Local authorities and the transing of non-transgender young people: a serious child safeguarding issue

30 Jul

Cllr Gary Powell is a councillor in Buckinghamshire

Local authorities have a legal and moral safeguarding duty in relation to how their services impact on children and also people with protected characteristics defined by the Equality Act 2010. There are nine protected characteristics, including sexual orientation, sex, disability and gender reassignment. With the onward march of extreme gender ideology, we are seeing an alarming number of false positives among children identified – or “self-identifying” – as transgender. Most at risk of being catapulted along a false transing pathway are children who are actually gay, lesbian, on the autistic spectrum, or gender-non-conforming.

Councils need to take reasonable and appropriate steps to prevent the services that they provide or support causing harm to children because of reckless political virtue-signalling, (which includes allowing boys to use girls’ toilets in schools). If they do not, then those local authorities will be in serious breach of their child safeguarding duties and their duties to avoid causing indirect discrimination under the Equality Act 2010 with regard to sexual orientation, disability (autism) and sex. Betraying vulnerable children will rightly expose councils to legal action in due course by the victims of that betrayal.

The main purveyor in the UK of what I would term extreme gender ideology is the LGBT+ lobbying group, Stonewall: an multi-million-pound turnover outfit that receives over £600,000 from local and national government, and that I wrote about previously in Conservative Home. It has enormous influence on Relationship and Sex Education in schools via its LGBT+ education programmes. As a gay rights activist for forty years, I regard Stonewall as having become a highly pernicious influence in modern British society.

The LGBT+ movement, as distinct from the lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) movement, is particularly effective at throwing mud at good people who oppose extreme gender ideology, including attempts to get gender heretics sacked merely for daring to say that biological sex is real. However, when a BBC Newsnight report highlighted the probability that gay and lesbian children are wrongly self-identifying as trans and being referred to gender clinics, the LGBT+ movement responded with silence.

The allegations in a recent report on BBC Newsnight into events at the Tavistock Centre, England’s only NHS children’s gender clinic, highlight how out-of-control the western leftist obsession with gender ideology has become. BBC Newsnight had read a “sizeable portion” of staff interview transcripts resulting from a review into the Tavistock Centre GIDS (Gender Identity Development Service): a review triggered by “serious concerns about children’s welfare raised by staff in an internal report”. Newsnight reported that, in all the interview transcripts they saw, there was mention of homophobia in the families of the children attending the clinic. Transcripts contained reports of young people struggling with their sexual orientation, and some parents appearing to prefer their children to be transgender (and therefore heterosexual), rather than gay or lesbian.

How do children land up in these GIDS clinics? The Tavistock declares:

“We accept self-referrals as well as referrals from GPs and other professionals such as social workers, psychiatrists and teachers.”

Social workers, teachers … we are squarely in local authority child safeguarding and Equality Act territory.

How many local authorities are responsible for creating a culture that responds to the vulnerabilities of gay and lesbian children by giving so much prominence to transgender issues that children grasp at an escape route out of their stigmatised homosexuality? A lesbian girl who is attracted to females now self-identifies as a heterosexual boy in a female body. Not only that, but with staggering implausibility, children are treated by the medical and political establishment as capable of giving informed consent to receive hormones that will block their puberty – and after only three counselling sessions at a GIDS clinic. The physically damaging process of puberty blockers almost always leads to cross-sex hormones at a later date, followed by breast or genital amputations. This is surely a shocking and abject failure in child safeguarding.

Stonewall is strikingly quiet about the transing of gay and lesbian children. It campaigns for people to be recognised as trans without any diagnosis of gender dysphoria, and for people to be able to enjoy all the rights associated with being trans simply by self-identifying as trans. 80 per cent of transwomen retain their male genitalia. Predatory men with male genitalia pretending to be transwomen so they can access girls’ and women’s changing rooms? This is a child safeguarding nightmare.

Stonewall reveal on their website (page last updated in 2015) that 56 local authorities have signed up to their Diversity Champions programme (annual subscription £2,500). Of these, 10 are Conservative-run councils.

Not only are gay and lesbian children in danger of being wrongly transed with the tacit or active consent of their local authority: in equal danger are the many boys and girls who simply do not confirm to 1950s gender stereotypes, and who may become persuaded they are transgender. Children on the autistic spectrum constitute another high-risk group. The Tavistock Centre’s internal review revealed that 35 per cent of the children referred to them had autistic traits, compared to a normal community prevalence of three per cent.

A disproportionate number of children with autism are ending up in GIDS clinics: something about which a leading Asperger syndrome specialist, Prof. Tony Attwood, has expressed concern. Many such children can come to mistakenly view gender transition as a potential cure for their autism-related struggles and difficulties.

Local authorities have an important duty to support those children with genuine gender dysphoria, which is a complex and potentially very distressing pathology. However, this duty is matched by an equal duty not to cause harm to other groups of children, and to provide clear guidance to their own departments, schools, and partner agencies, in order to ensure that trans issues are taught about and dealt with in a sensible and sensitive manner. This is potentially a child safeguarding timebomb waiting to explode. Not for the first time, the suffering of child victims is being tolerated and ignored in the service of political or social expediency.