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A running list of all the embarrassing things Kemi Badenoch has done

From railing against gender-neutral toilets to suggesting that schools should out trans kids to their parents, the equalities minister has made some questionable decisions during her time in the cabinet

All Tory MPs are embarrassing, but some are definitely more embarrassing than others. It’s safe to say that Kemi Badenoch, the Secretary of State for Business and Trade and Minister for Women and Equalities, is in the running for the most embarrassing of them all.

Since climbing up the greasy pole to the cabinet, she’s made quite a name for herself. In just a few months, she has supported Sunak’s unprecedented decision to block Scotland passing the gender recognition reform bill, demanded an investigation into a school where kids were supposedly pretending to be cats (they weren’t), and even suggested that we do away with woke gender-neutral toilets. 

And it doesn’t end there. Here’s a running list of all the deeply stupid things Kemi Badenoch has said and done.


Welcome to the UK: public transport anywhere outside of the M25 is diabolical, the number of people reporting mental health problems remains high, the cost of living is careering out of control, and the NHS is at breaking point. In the midst of all this chaos, Rishi Sunak and Kemi Badenoch put their heads together and decided that, yes, now is the time for a ‘Lavatory Tsar’.

Yes, really. Under new plans announced on August 14, Badenoch revealed that all new buildings open to the public will have to include single-sex male and female lavatories. She said that the government must step in when “common sense disappears”, following a rise in businesses offering gender-neutral toilets without separate single-sex facilities. 

Badenoch said that the widespread switch to gender-neutral toilets had removed the “fundamental right” of women and girls to “privacy, dignity and safety” while using public facilities. “These proposals will ensure every new building in England provides separate male and female or unisex facilities, and publish guidance to explain the difference, protecting the dignity, privacy and safety of all.”

To recap: the Conservatives want to control exactly where you piss, but they also think financially supporting people living in poverty would be veering into ‘nanny state’ territory and intervening too much in people’s lives. Makes sense x


While we’re still awaiting the publication of guidelines for schools on issues of gender identity, Badenoch has made it perfectly clear that she’s in favour of outing trans kids to their parents.

In an interview with Laura Kuenssberg, Badenoch said: “There’s quite a lot of confusion about what the law says and it is important that parents are aware of what’s going on with their children and what’s happening to them at school, so what we’re doing is making sure we have robust guidance that’s going to be able to stand up to scrutiny. That will be coming shortly.”

Kuenssberg then asked Badenoch if she was concerned about the possibility of teachers outing trans pupils to their parents against their wishes. Badenoch responded: “I think we need to make sure that we don’t speculate too much on what’s going to be in the guidance. It’s best read in totality and within context. The fact is, this is not a trivial thing, this is very different from sexual orientation and what is right is that parents know what is going on with their children at school. It’s not for teachers to parent, it’s for parents to parent.” 


No, you didn’t imagine the right-wing press trying to invent a narrative that children were now identifying as cats en masse – that really did happen. What didn’t happen was the incident which supposedly triggered the whole fiasco.

It all started with an article published in the Telegraph in June, with the misleading headline “Pupil who questioned classmate ‘identifying as a cat’ called ‘despicable’ by teacher”. But there was no classmate who identified as a cat; in reality, one student posed a rhetorical question about “identifying as a cat” as part of an argument about trans identities. The school in question even ended up issuing a statement about the debacle, insisting “no children at Rye College identify as a cat or any other animal”.

But the facts didn’t deter Badenoch, who demanded that the school should be subject to a snap Ofsted inspection. She urged Ofsted to “carefully consider” inspecting the school, as she believed the incident raised “issues about safeguarding at the school” and argued that a recording of the teacher urging pupils to respect trans identities breached the Equality Act.


The UK is far from perfect when it comes to protections and rights for minority groups, but at least we do have anti-discrimination legislation such as the Equality Act which protects people from discrimination in the workplace and wider society. It’s hard to understand why anyone would want to make regressive changes to the Equality Act, but Badenoch is pretty keen to do just that.

In April, it was revealed that she was considering changing the Equality Act to allow organisations to bar trans women from single-sex spaces and events. The proposed change would redefine sex in the 2010 act to specifically refer to legal protections for the sex assigned at birth. The equalities watchdog said that such a change would make it possible to exclude trans people from same-sex spaces even if they hold a gender recognition certificate (GRC).


Back in December 2022, Scotland passed the gender recognition reform bill – only for Rishi Sunak to block the bill in January, in an unprecedented move that saw Westminster attempt to block legislation passed in Scotland.

Badenoch spoke out in support of the decision to block the bill in an interview with The Times. “We have no problem with that in the sense that we want people who are trans to be able to live their lives freely and as they wish,” she said. “The problem is that self-identification also makes life a lot easier for other people [who] we don’t want to have those sorts of freedoms. Predators would be able to exploit any system that says you can just say you are what you are.”

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