Former Bangor mayor Owen Hurcum accuses Tory MPs of 'hijacking' trans debate and attacking community

Owen Hurcum stood down from his position as Mayor of Bangor at the local elections earlier this month Credit: Media Wales/UK Parliament

The world's first openly non-binary city mayor has accused Conservative MPs of "hijacking" a UK parliamentary debate on the rights of non-binary people.

Owen Hurcum, who stood down as mayor of Bangor earlier this month, accused MPs of attacking the trans community and espousing myths and falsehoods.

The debate, that was attended by just six MPs, followed a petition signed by 140,000 calling on the UK to legally recognise non-binary gender identities.

Such a move would allow people to declare their identity as non-binary, and not either male nor female.

Transgender communities feel increasingly under attack by the UK government, epitomised by its refusal to ban trans conversion therapy. Credit: PA

However, Owen believes it was hijacked by some MPs and illustrated where the UK is as a country on right for trans people.

Owen told ITV Wales: "I was just angry and frustrated with the debate.

"Unfortunately, they [Conservative MPs] derailed what was meant to be a debate about recognising my gender and the gender of my non-binary siblings.

"I was particularly shocked by by Nick Fletcher's contributions, because here we have, as he said, in the highest parliament in the land, a serving MP, telling parents to ignore their children if they come out as trans.

"That is just dangerous rhetoric. There are people in the UK who have contemplated suicide rather than come out to their parents.

"I've got very accepting parents, and I was still terrified to come out."

Members of the non-binary community are asking for the UK Government to legally recognise their identity as neither male nor female.

However, a number of MPs have challenged this and argued that such a move would be a challenge to the rights of women.

In the debate, Nick Fletcher, the MP for Don Valley, argued that parents should "not give in" to their children if they come out as trans.

"I want to speak to parents," he told the debate. "If their child comes home with those concerns, they should talk to them but be strong.

"They should not ever give in to them or to peer pressure from other adults. Their child was born either a boy or a girl; they should be proud of who their child is and tell them to be proud too."

Nick Fletcher, Miriam Cates and Tim Loughton contributed to the debate. Credit: UK Parliament

Miriam Cates, the MP for Penistone and Stocksbridge called the treatment of children a "failure of safeguarding".

She continued: "It is not biology; it is ideology, and in many cases it is indoctrination."

Tim Loughton, the MP for East Worthing and Shoreham echoed comments made by Professor Robert Winstone in describing trans people under the age of 18 as "badly damaged children".

Despite counter arguments made by Labour's Anneliese Dodds and the SNP's Kirsten Oswald, Owen hit out at the overall direction of the debate.

"All we want is equal rights, we aren't trying to take anyone's rights away, that's a complete fallacy," Owen continued.

"Every country that has stood up for trans rights has never eroded the rights of women.

"Iceland is constantly recorded as having one of the highest equality indexes for women and has one of the highest equality ratings for trans men, trans women and non-binary people.

"That country has realised that trans people aren't eroding the rights of anyone else, or eroding definitions of anyone else."

Conservative MP for Bridgend, Jamie Wallis, came out as transgender in March.

Bridgend MP Jamie Wallis became the first openly transgender MP when he came out in March.

His statement at the time was met with widespread compassion and acceptance from across Westminster at the time, including on the Conservative benches.

However, since then, the UK Government has refused to ban conversion therapy for transgender people.

Owen said Monday's debate and the UK Government's position shows why more transgender people are needed to be part of debates and decision making.

"It would have been so much better if this debate was able to include trans or non-binary speakers.

"I think if we had trans and non-binary people contributing it wouldn't have been derailed, it wouldn't have been as hostile.

"This is why it's so important to have members of all marginalised communities, being the decision makers, and passing laws that affect this country."

The Welsh Government has confirmed a ban on conversion therapy in Wales will include the practise on trans people Credit: Crown Copyright

The Welsh Government has said it is committed to working to make it illegal to practice conversion therapy on al LGBTQ+ people, including transgender and non-binary people.

However, Owen said it is a promise that cannot be fulfilled quickly enough.