Homophobic DUP equality spokesman: ‘You have nothing to fear on LGBT rights’
An MP for the party set to have a massive amount of influence over the Conservative government has said the British public has nothing to fear.
After losing its majority in last week’s election, the Tories entered into 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.
A PinkNews investigation found that seven of the party’s 10 MPs have espoused darkly homophobic views, from being against discrimination laws to virulently anti-same-sex marriage.
But Jim Shannon, who is one of these MPs despite being the DUP’s equality spokesman, said the deal being pursued by the two parties did not involve any Tory concessions on LGBT rights.
Shannon, a DUP MP since 2010, told Premier Christian Radio: “We want to ensure that every one of the LGBT community have rights and their rights will be maintained.
“So, there’s going to be no changes to that whatsoever.”
The 62-year-old, who has voted against same-sex marriage at every opportunity he has had, added: “The situation in Northern Ireland is very different.
“The Northern Ireland Assembly will make those decisions; the elected government will make those decisions – they’re two diverse and different opinions.”
“I do not see at this moment in time anything changing whatsoever on the mainland.”
Shannon also said during the interview that he considered his political outlook to be “left of centre”.
In 2012, the MP voted to repeal the Human Rights Act.
Articles 8 and 14 of the Human Rights Act, which afford protection from discrimination and the right to family life, have been used in many legal cases to argue for equal treatment of LGBT people, and were integral in early LGBT rights victories.
And earlier this year, Shannon claimed that teachers need a legal ‘opt-out’ from lessons condemning homophobia.
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Speaking in Parliament, the MP for Strangford claimed it is unfair on Christian teachers to expect them to “promote the latest Government definition of morality” by speaking out against homophobic bullying.
The DUP also gave a statement to the radio station, which said: “Social issues are devolved matters.
“We don’t seek to change Great British law on it or expect them to do so here in Northern Ireland.
“Our manifesto is focused on important bread and butter issues such as the economy, health service and education.”
While negotiating a deal with the DUP, Theresa May has given the position of justice secretary to David Lidington, who has an appalling record when it comes to LGBT issues.
More: Conservative Party, David Lidington, democratic unionist party, DUP, election, general election, General Election 2017, general election 2017, Government, Jim Shannon, Northern Ireland, Theresa May, tories, voting