Belgium’s deputy prime minister, who ranks as one of Europe’s most senior transgender politicians, has urged Rishi Sunak not to join “the real bullies” after remarks made by the British prime minister at the Conservative party conference this week. Sunak told the audience: “We shouldn’t get bullied into believing that people can be any sex they want to be,” to cheers and loud applause. “They can’t. A man is a man and a woman is a woman. That’s just common sense.” The prime minister’s comments came as it was revealed that the number of hate crimes committed against transgender people last year in England and Wales had climbed to a record high, with the Home Office suggesting in its report that the 11% rise may have been prompted by comments by politicians and media.