DUP should take part in Belfast Pride parade

The First Minister and DUP leader Peter Robinson has been making a bid for his party's representatives to have seats on the Equality Commission when they come up for appointment later this year.

If the DUP want to be taken seriously on equality, then they need to prove themselves to the whole community.

Every year, Belfast Pride invites the DUP – and all the other local parties – to have a representative take part in a question time-style event, Pride Talks Back. This year there were MLAs from Sinn Fein, UUP, SDLP, Alliance and the PUP, as well as Amnesty's Colm O'Gorman. This year, like every other year, the DUP failed the test by snubbing the organisers and refusing to talk publicly with the gay community at their annual festival.

After last year's Iris Robinson debacle, the DUP has a lot of ground to make up with Northern Ireland's gay community. The party could start by having a couple of representatives come along to tomorrow's Belfast Pride parade.

Last year, MLAs Basil McCrea and John McCallister were there, as senior representatives for the UUP, for the first time. They were made most welcome, as were representatives from all the other political parties and community groups in attendance.

So, can't Northern Ireland's largest party get a couple of their, perhaps younger, more open-minded, elected representatives to come along to Northern Ireland's most colourful parade? I, and other regular parade-goers, would make them most welcome. Until then, many people in Northern Ireland – and certainly in the local LGBT community - will remain unconvinced that the DUP is serious about equality for all.

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Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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