Theresa May launching an LGBT Action Plan while still in bed with the DUP is the height of hypocrisy

The prime minister wants to ban 'abhorrent' gay conversion therapy - but in the past, DUP members have publicly advocated for it

Ben Kelly
Tuesday 03 July 2018 16:30 BST
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Today, Theresa May has launched the government’s LGBT Action Plan, having surveyed over 100,000 citizens from the community about their lives.

Introducing the report, May herself writes: “We can be proud that the UK is a world leader in advancing LGBT rights.” Perhaps she has forgotten the part of the UK where LGBT rights are not advancing?

While citizens across England, Scotland and Wales enjoy same-sex marriage as a legal right, it is denied to gay people in Northern Ireland because of the DUP; and it is only with the support of the DUP that May and her Conservatives remain clinging on to power. The conflict of interest is glaring.

That May would launch an LGBT action plan while in bed with the DUP is the height of hypocrisy. Having objected to every advance in gay rights over the past 60 years, the party is one of the most anti-LGBT organisations in existence in this country.

Upon reading the survey results, May claims she was struck that two-thirds of LGBT people don’t hold hands in public “for fear of a negative reaction.” Negative reactions are something the DUP could teach her a lot about.

Having learned that another politician’s aide married his same-sex partner in 2005, Ian Paisley Jr said, “I think these sorts of relationships are immoral, offensive and obnoxious.” He later said he was “pretty repulsed by gay and lesbianism.” Today, he is one of the MPs whose support May needs to keep her job.

One of May’s main objectives in the action plan is to ban the “abhorrent” practise of so-called gay conversion therapy, which is damaging to the vulnerable LGBT people subjected to it. But only a decade ago, DUP members were publicly advocating for it.

In 2008, former MP Iris Robinson reacted to news of a gay man being attacked for his sexuality by promoting “a very lovely psychiatrist” she knew, who “tried to help homosexuals trying to turn away from what they are engaged in.” She also said homosexuality was “more sickening than a child being abused.”

In her defence, her husband Peter Robinson MP – then the DUP leader – said, “It wasn’t Iris who determined that homosexuality was an abomination, it was the Almighty.” As recently as 2015 Thomas Kerrigan, a DUP councillor in Derry, said gay people could be "cured" by turning to Christ.

Theresa May vows to eradicate ‘abhorrent’ gay conversion therapy as part of LGBT+ equality plan

While Theresa May offers up her LGBT action plan on one hand, she is doing deals with these sorts of people on the other.

For the past three years the DUP have been blocking the introduction of same sex marriage in the Stormont Assembly by misusing a veto which – ironically – is supposed to protect the rights of minorities.

Amid the present suspension of the Assembly, which has been going on for almost 18 months, many believe Westminster is within its rights to take direct action on this issue.

It’s evident that the current government is unwilling to do this, in case they upset their unionist masters in the Commons. If Theresa May really cared about LGBT equality, she would stand up to the DUP, and legalise same-sex marriage for the people of Northern Ireland.

But if you want to know how much the prime minister really cares about LGBT people in Belfast or Derry, you might want to read the action plan’s small print.

There, tucked away on the penultimate page we are told that the plan will have “varying levels of effect across the four nations of the UK, owing to existing devolution arrangements.”

In other words, the rights of LGBT people in Northern Ireland remain indefinitely on hold.

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