Unionists to attend Belfast Pride

Today, for the first time ever, unionist politicians will attend the Belfast Pride parade – and not as anti-gay protestors.

In the wake of a row started by the homophobic comments of DUP MP Iris Robinson and heightened this week by a call for her resignation by Peter Tatchell at the Amnesty International Pride Lecture, Ulster Unionist Assembly member Basil McCrea has confirmed that he and others from the party will be in attendance at this afternoon's parade. It is a very welcome move.

As the Irish Times reminds us today: "the wife of Stormont First Minister Peter Robinson, recently claimed gay sex was an abomination. She was also quoted by parliamentary record keepers Hansard stating homosexuality is more vile than child abuse." The DUP is Northern Ireland's largest political party and has stood by their Strangford MP despite calls for condemnation or, at least, distancing by the party. When it comes to homophobia, the party are repeat offenders.

The parade is the biggest Pride celebration in Ireland – some 5,000 took part last year – and, as usual, Amnesty International will be out in force with our 'love is a human right' message and our campaign on behalf of the LGBT community across eastern Europe.

The parade is set for its biggest political turnout ever, with Sinn Féin, Alliance and now the Ulster Unionists confirming thay they will have an official presence to add to the more regular presence of the SDLP, Greens and SWP. The political response has been welcomed by the local gay community as a rejection of the DUP's homophobia.

What DUP presence is at Belfast Pride today is likely to be among the group of evangelical Christians who normally mount an anti-gay protest. Yesterday the News Letter carried a full page advert from an east Belfast-based Sandown Road Free Presbyterian church entitled the “Word of God Against Sodomy”, stating that homosexuality is an offence in the eyes of Christians.

I'm heading to Custom House Square shortly to help with the Amnesty set-up. I'll let you know how it goes.

 

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