DUP elects first gay candidate in local elections

Alison Bennington’s election is significant in a party that has a tradition of opposing LGBT rights

Ben Kelly
Saturday 04 May 2019 18:02 BST
Local elections: First ever openly gay DUP candidate Alison Bennington wins in Northern Ireland

The DUP has elected its first ever gay candidate in Northern Ireland’s local council elections.

Alison Bennington has won a seat on the Antrim and Newtonabbey Council, in a significant moment for the party who strongly oppose LGBT rights.

Speaking about her candidacy in April, Ms Bennington told the Irish News she was putting herself forward based on what she could deliver to the electorate, and “not based on my sexual orientation.”

She added: “I regard my private and family life as a matter for myself in the same way as everyone else.”

While Ms Bennington’s candidacy was remarked upon positively in Northern Ireland and welcomed by LGBT activists as a positive development, some voices from within the DUP have spoken openly against her.

MLA Jim Wells said it “fundamentally undermines the values and traditions of the party” and the party’s founder Ian Paisley would be “aghast”.

The Free Presbyterian Church - with which the DUP has been traditionally linked - said it was “saddened” by parties attempting to “normalise and promote marital and sexual relationships that are in contravention of the clear teaching of Scripture”.

The DUP, a party founded on traditional conservative beliefs, have long opposed gay rights. In the 1970s, they led the "Save Ulster From Sodomy" campaign in an attempt to prevent the decriminalisation of homosexuality in Northern Ireland.

Their opposition to same sex marriage has also prevented it from becoming law in Northern Ireland - something which has led to the current political impasse in the region.

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