Labor MP Chris Bryant said Downing Street’s focus on culture wars has contributed to an ideological environment in which he feels “less physically safe as a gay” than 30 years ago.
Bryant, the Member of Parliament for Rhondda since 2001, whose work as chairman of the Commons Standards Committee saw him play a leading role in recent discussions of sordid parliamentarian, said he had discussed his concerns about fomenting culture wars with “people who work in Downing Street”.
Speaking to Nick Robinson’s Political Thinking, produced by the BBC, Bryant said that while he did not believe Boris Johnson to be personally homophobic, attempts to stoke social divisions inevitably meant that people belonging to minority groups would be targeted.
“They learned this trick in America from Trump and in the end the culture wars will always prey on those who are slightly different and that means gays, jews and blacks and that is always the list that comes up. whenever a populist government takes power, ”said Bryant.
Asked about examples of cultural warfare policies, Bryant noted the government’s stance on transgender people, adding that ministers were also apparently not ready to implement a total ban on conversion practices.
“There is a world where people think it is politically advantageous to stir this pot and that really scares me,” he said. “I am not accusing the Prime Minister of being homophobic, but I feel less physically safe as a gay man than 30 years ago.”
While Bryant said he doesn’t spend every day “worrying about being scoffed at against homosexuals,” he was concerned about the levels of crime targeting LGBT people, adding that homophobia is “a very important to the experience of the people of modern Britain “.
Johnson has been repeatedly accused of seeking political advantage by using divisive cultural issues to woo supporters and disparage opponents. Much of the impetus for such policies within No 10 would come from Johnson’s advisor Munira Mirza and her colleague and husband Dougie Smith.
As a politician, it has manifested itself in a variety of ways, including regular attacks on “awakened” opinions and attempts to stack cultural institutions and other organizations with ideologically like-minded people.
Mirza was the main organizer of Downing Street’s official response to the racial justice movements in March this year, which downplayed the impact of structural factors on ethnic disparities and said the UK should be seen as a example of equality.
Such tactics have backfired on him in the past, such as when Johnson and his ministers had to hastily back down on criticism of English footballers’ decision to kneel before matches in the middle of a wide support for the team during last year’s Euro 2020 tournament.