A Northern Ireland gay rights group is protesting plans to scrap Belfast’s Gay Pride March from this year’s council calendar advertising local events.

The Daily Ireland reports that the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) attempted to remove mention of the Mardi Gras style event from thousands of booklets due to be posted to residents.

Although the proposal was defeated, the Northern Ireland Gay Rights Association worry that DUP councillors will revisit the motion at the next full council meeting in March.

They released a statement shaming the DUP as “counterproductive” for opposing the festival but thanking them for the free publicity.

DUP councillor Nelson McCausland, who sits on the committee, refused to comment on the matter. He said he would issue a statement in due course.

Sinn Féin’s Paul Maskey, who opposed DUP plans to remove the festival from the council booklet, condemned the proposal.

He told the Daily Ireland: “The gay pride festival has as much a right to feature on this booklet as any other. It is supported by the majority of people in Belfast and is looked forward to by thousands.”

The 2006 Belfast gay pride festival will take place on the last weekend in July. Throughout its short history it has been picketed by Christian fundamentalists.

Last year, festival organisers were forced to apply to the Parades Commission before being allowed to stage a procession through the city centre. The pride festival regularly receives council funding despite DUP opposition.