Paisley faces gay rights challenge
A former member of the DUP has challenged party leader and First Minister of Northern Ireland Ian Paisley over the Sexual Orientation Regulations.
The regulations outlaw discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation when accessing goods and services.
The UK government imposed them on Northern Ireland in January, before the new DUP/Sinn Fein-led local administration took office.
Independent Unionist MEP Jim Allister has written to Mr Paisley to ask what he intends to do about the SOR now that he is in charge of equality issues in the province.
“There is not much point in being in executive office if you can’t deliver on principles important to you and your electorate,” he told the Belfast News Letter.
“These over-the-top regulations, subverting the conscience and convictions of service providers, so that, for example, the printer can’t refuse to print gay rights material, offend not just the human rights of service providers but exalt the rights of those they serve above their conscience and religious belief.”
He urged Mr Paisley to repeal the SOR.
Mr Allister left the DUP in protest at their taking office with Sinn Fein.
The Belfast Telegraph revealed last week 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.
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.”
The DUP objected strongly to the introduction of the Sexual Orientation Regulations in Northern Ireland.
Lord Morrow, a DUP peer, tried to have them overturned in the House of Lords.
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The Lords voted 199 to 68 to retain the regulations.
The result was a defeat for Christian and Muslim protesters, a 1,000 of whom converged on Parliament Square while the debate was going on.
Ian Paisley addressed the crowd, asking them, “Are we really Christians and will we stand up for Jesus?
“We’re here to say that we’re on the Lord’s side.”
Christian objectors to the Sexual Orientation Regulations are now concentrating their energies on a judicial review of the regulations that pressure group the Christian Institute has secured.
It will be heard in the High Court in Belfast later this year.