Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party looks set to gain a strong grip over the UK government.
The Conservative Party failed to get an overall majority in last week’s General Election, and must now try to secure an agreement with another party in order to govern.
The Tories are currently in discussions with Northern Ireland’s ultra-conservative Democratic Unionist Party, which is strongly opposed to LGBT rights.
The DUP has stalled all progress on equal marriage in Northern Ireland, and previously supported the introduction of a ‘conscience clause’ to protect people who discriminate against LGBT people.
But the anti-LGBT policies of the party pales in comparison to the attitudes of most of its MPs that Theresa May will have to appease.
Ian Paisley Jr MP
One of the ten MPs that the Tories want to bring onside, the son of ‘Save Ulster from Sodomy’ founder Ian Paisley is very much in the mould of his father.
Paisley Jr has spoken of his “hatred” of homosexuality, saying: “I am pretty repulsed by gay and lesbianism. I think it is wrong. I think that those people harm themselves and – without caring about it – harm society.”
The MP defended his comments in 2013, saying: “I am repulsed by many things.The actions, and not specifically the individuals. I am repulsed by people who are not homosexual as well sometimes.”
Sammy Wilson MP
The MP for East Antrim, Mr Wilson recently claimed the government spends too much money fighting HIV, claiming AIDS is the result of gay “lifestyle choices”.
He was responding to a constituent who had urged him to support World AIDS Day on December 1.
Refusing to support the day, Mr Wilson wrote: “I know that the Government has put considerable resources into dealing with the issue of aids [sic], sometimes at the expense of other illnesses which affect people, such as dementia and cancer and which are not always as a result of their own behaviour.
“Personally, I believe that there are areas of medicine and diseases that have not received the same attention as aids and which afflict far more people that are not always as a result of lifestyle choices and which therefore deserve higher priorities than they have been given at present.”
Nigel Dodds MP
The DUP leader in the House of Commons, Mr Dodds has called for a “conscience clause” to permit anti-LGBT discrimination on the grounds of religion.
After a Christian bakery was found to have discriminated by refusing to bake a ‘gay’ cake, Mr Dodds called for equality law to be re-written to protect Christians.
He said: “The case reopens the debate about how exactly religious belief is respected within the United Kingdom and the need for someone’s conscience to be protected whilst ensuring that discrimination does not occur.”
Jim Shannon MP
Earlier this year, the Member of Parliament for Strangford claimed that teachers need a legal ‘opt-out’ from lessons condemning homophobia.
Speaking in Parliament, Mr Shannon claimed it is unfair on Christian teachers to expect them to “promote the latest Government definition of morality” by speaking out against homophobic bullying.
He said: “I understand that we cannot press our faith on others, but by the same token we should not be expected to directly oppose the teachings of our faith on the say-so of others.
“Teachers do not want their teaching to promote the latest Government definition of morality; they want it to help a child to have a fully rounded life and to make a difference. Allow them to do that in an appropriate way and legislate to protect them with any proposed changes.”
Sir Jeffrey Donaldson MP
The DUP Member of Parliament for Lagan Valley was vice president of the Keep Marriage Special campaign, which lobbied aggressively against equal marriage.
Mr Donaldson’s campaign group controversially likened same-sex marriage to incest.
Keep Marriage Special insisted: “If the only basis for marriage is the desire of the parties to get married then there is, according to the logic of this proposal, no reason not to open up marriage to more than just same-sex couples. Polygamy, polyandry and incest would all be permissible.”
The MP has also backed the use of peace process powers to veto equal marriage in the Northern Irish Assembly.
Speaking after equal marriage moved forward in England and Wales, Mr Donaldson vowed to block it in Northern Ireland.
He said: “Our view would be that there certainly would not be a majority in favour in Northern Ireland of extending these powers to the province, and there is certainly no intention to legislate for this.
“We have enough votes in the Assembly to veto it anyway.”
David Simpson MP
The MP for Upper Bann is a furious opponent of equality, famously declaring in the House of Commons that it was “Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve”.
Ranting against equal marriage, he said: “This is not the jurisdiction of this House.
“This is not the jurisdiction of this Government, of any European Government or of any Government in the world.
“This is an ordained constitution of God. In the garden of Eden, it was Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.”
Gregory Campbell MP
You will not be surprised to hear that the MP for East Londonderry is an avowed opponent of LGBT rights who has consistently opposed equality across his 16 years in Parliament.
Speaking in 2014, Mr Campbell backed calls for a ‘license to discriminate’ clause to protect homophobes.
During Prime Minister’s Questions, he asked: “Does the Prime Minister agree that so-called equality is now being viewed by many as an oppressive threat to religious freedom, and that such freedoms should be protected by the introduction of a conscience clause?”
Mr Campbell allegedly once described homosexuality as “evil” and claimed God sent AIDS as a homosexual “curse”.
He had claimed: “It’s an evil, wicked, abhorrent practice. My opposition to that is based on the Bible and also based on natural justice and I know many people who do not share my Protestant faith but who would share my opposition to homosexuality because they believe it is something which would corrupt society as a whole, and is something so radically awful as to merit total and utter opposition. You’re not even talking about someething which is a run of the mill sexual practice but something which is totally and utterly depraved.
“The AIDS scare which is currently running through America is proof that homosexual practice is something which calls upon the curse of God.
“I would see homosexuality as something which merited the curse of God.
“AIDS came about because of sexual contact between homosexuals. Now that to me is something which shows in a small way that there is more than just human opposition to homosexuality.
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“In the Bible there is only one sin which called down literal fire and brimstone from God and that wasn’t murder, it wasn’t theft, it was homosexuality.”
Though she is not an MP, the party is led by Arlene Foster, who is heading the talks with the Conservatives.
Ms Foster reaffirmed plans to continue employing powers to block any future marriage legislation. She recently defended her actions by insisting gay people don’t really want to get married anyway.
She said: “This suggestion that every single person who’s a homosexual wants to change the definition of marriage is actually wrong.
“I know plenty of people in that community who don’t want to see marriage redefined and are quite content to live in partnership… it’s all become a bit of a storm in a teacup.”
She has also backed the introduction of a ‘conscience’ clause that would permit discrimination in the past.
Responding to a MLA’s question about whether such a law would enable homophobia, she said: “I don’t share her concerns at all.
“What does concern me is the number of small businesses who have approached me individually and many of my colleagues in relation to the concerns they have about the provision of services in the future.”
The Conservatives’ deal with the DUP is expected to be formally announced tomorrow.