Rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Gender Non-conforming Young People

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons am 10:15 pm ar 15 Ebrill 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Stuart Andrew Stuart Andrew Assistant Whip, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Culture, Media and Sport), Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Business and Trade) (Minister for Equalities) 10:15, 15 Ebrill 2024

I thank Neale Hanvey for securing this important debate. He has raised a number of very serious issues. As he will understand, we are still considering a lot of them, so I may not be able to go into too much detail at this moment, but I will be more than happy to write to him and update him on progress in each area.

I completely agree with him on the need for us always to think about the safeguarding of children and young people, regardless of whether they are LGBT. We need to ensure we uphold our obligations in that regard. We welcome much in the Cass report—it is a comprehensive report. As the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care said to the House earlier, we will be considering and responding to a lot of points made in the report in due course. Much of what the hon. Gentleman is saying is that we need evidence-based decisions, which will clearly be incredibly important.

As I have mentioned at the Dispatch Box a number of times, this debate sometimes gets toxic, which does not help anybody. There are strong views on all sides of the debate, but for me it is really important that we base the debate on evidence and ensure we are careful in the way that we articulate our arguments. There are people out there, particularly young people, who will listen to some of those words and feel very affected and pressurised, in whatever direction that may be.

That is why the Government and I are committed to improving the outcomes of young people, especially recognising that LGBT young people can face very specific challenges, which may include bullying at school, an increased risk of mental health issues, which the hon. Gentleman alluded to, difficult family environments or, occasionally, even homelessness as a result of their sexuality. I assure the hon. Gentleman that the other equality hub Ministers and I regularly engage with our counterparts across Government Departments on these important issues.

To help achieve the goal of improving outcomes for LGBT people, we have ensured that spending for children and young people’s mental health services has increased. The hon. Gentleman was right to raise that important point. We have increased spending from £841 million in 2019-20 to just over £1 billion, but I will ensure that I write to my colleagues in the Department of Health and Social Care to raise the points that the hon. Gentleman has made this evening.