A lot of this story is about something called an All Party Parliamentary Group. APPGs are, as the name says, groups of MPs and peers who work together to investigate, report and campaign on a particular issue. They are not parliamentary bodies in the sense of being part of the legislature; unlike select committees, they have no constitutional status or legal powers.
The APPG at the heart of this story is the APPG on LGBT+ Global Rights. The narrow fact of the story is that the group’s chair broke parliamentary rules on transparency by producing a report that was kept secret from the public but used to assemble a network of parliamentary support for a concerted attempt to persuade ministers to do something deeply controversial. Another, apparently unrelated fact, is that trans-rights campaign groups paid the equivalent of £80,000 to the APPG.
APPGs are supposed to operate under clear rules of transparency, so that the public can see and judge the actions of parliamentarians. Laws and rules that affect the public should be made in a way that is visible to us, after all.
Yet that document had been written and given – ‘quietly’ – to ministers more than two months before the public could have had any knowledge of it.
What does this story tell us? It’s more evidence that some people who campaign for trans rights policies make a deliberate choice to do so in private settings, where the wider public cannot know or assess their arguments.