Tory leadership: Marriage update

Aug 24, 2022

We promised to keep you up to date with what the candidates for the Conservative Party leadership say affecting marriage. Here, we look at three relevant issues.

Transgender rights
The definition of traditional marriage as between a man and a woman depends on an understanding of what “man” and “woman” mean. Changing gender by self-identification strikes at the heart of what the Coalition for Marriage stands for. The current Government dropped this plan (Liz Truss was the Minister responsible), and there are no signs of a change in policy from the candidates. Rishi Sunak has said it is “extraordinary” that “we have to have a conversation about what a woman is” and committed to stand up for women’s rights, including changing rooms, sports and using words like ‘woman’ or ‘mother’. Liz Truss says she wants to protect “single sex spaces” and doesn’t support under-18s making “irreversible decisions about their own bodies”.

Online Safety Bill
We’ve previously warned that the Online Safety Bill could see defending real marriage banned online. Both candidates have acknowledged concerns about the duties on ‘legal but harmful’ content, and promised to take another look at the Bill as Prime Minister to ensure free speech is protected.

Conversion therapy
We’ve also written before of the danger the proposed conversion therapy ban poses to marriage supporters. Apart from comments from Iain Duncan Smith, a key member of Liz Truss’s team, that the Bill needs to be amended to avoid “unintended consequences”, this issue hasn’t featured in the campaigns.