The Northern Ireland government has allocated hundreds of thousands of pounds to help promote gay equality, and from next week the funds will be overseen by a department headed by Ian Paisley.

The leader of the DUP becomes First Minister when the reformed Stormont administration takes office on Thursday.

Sinn Fein, the DUP, the SDLP and the UUP will all have ministers in the Northern Ireland Executive.

Mr Paisley is head of the Free Presbyterian church, which he founded in 1951.

He led a campaign against the decriminalisation of homosexuality called “Save Ulster From Sodomy”

Now the Belfast Telegraph has revealed that the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister will give £180,000 over a 12-month period to promote equality for the gay community, working with LGBT groups in the province.

The distribution of government money to gay groups is bound to cause more unrest among die-hard DUP members and Free Presbyterians.

Earlier this week a Free Presbyterian preacher demanded that the new DUP government minister for culture, Edwin Poots, to block a grant to Belfast Pride, calling it a “celebration of sodomy.”

In a new posting on his website, preacher Ivan Foster said:

“Mr Poots cannot serve God and the world. He cannot please God and the iniquitous sodomite lobby or, indeed, his Sinn Fein/IRA partners.

“If he acquiesces to this demand, then he is throwing his lot in with the enemies of God and will be contravening the standards of God’s Word for a Christian.”

A spokesman for OFMDFM told the Belfast Telegraph:

“The (£180,000) funding is to enable the Coalition on Sexual Orientation to build the capacity and infrastructure of the sector to promote equality, improve community relations and the social inclusion of lesbian, gay and bisexual people.”