Labour’s Chris Bryant has said he believes that a “culture war” waged by the British government has made him “feel less safe” as a gay man for the first time in three decades.
The MP for Rhondda in south Wales said that he does not believe Boris Johnson is homophobic, but said that his government policies have made him “feel more nervous”.
Speaking to Nick Robinson for the Political Thinking podcast, he said: “I now feel more nervous as a gay man in Britain than I have for 30 years. I’ve discussed this with people who work in Downing Street.
“It’s because they’re very happy to have culture wars. They’ve learned this trick in America from Trump and in the end culture wars will always pick on those who are slightly different.”
Mr Bryant left the priesthood in 1991 to pursue a career in politics.
He entered a civil partnership with his partner in 2010 – the first ceremony of its kind ever held in the Houses of Parliament – before the couple later married.
The Labour MP is also chair of the Commons standards committee.
He added: “There’s a world where people who think it’s politically advantageous to stir that pot and that makes me genuinely fearful.
“I’m not accusing the prime minister of being homophobic but I do feel less physically safe as a gay man than I did 30 years ago.
“It’s a very strong part of people’s experience of modern Britain and I just worry about some of the language.”
When questioned about examples of problematic policies, Mr Bryant mentioned the government’s position on issues relating to trans people, and added that ministers did not seem willing to put an outright ban on “conversion therapy”.
A No 10 spokesperson said: “The prime minister is proud of this government’s record on LGBT issues and we continue to make progress in areas such as banning conversion therapy and extending same-sex marriage to all parts of the UK.
“He is also absolutely clear there is no place for homophobic abuse.”
No10 also said that the UK “continues to be recognised as one of the top 10 most progressive countries in Europe for LGBT rights by ILGA-Europe,” with one of the “world’s strongest legislative frameworks to prevent and tackle discrimination”.
The government has been criticised in the past for its stances against “woke” practices and beliefs, such as the taking of the knee as an anti-racism gesture during the Euro 2020 football tournament.
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