Thousands set to march on London and Belfast to protest deal with anti-LGBT DUP
Thousands of people are set to march in protest at the Conservative Party’s proposed deal with the Democratic Unionist Party, which strongly opposes LGBT rights.
The rallies will take place in the two capitals involved – Belfast and London – with those involved explicitly marching against the DUP’s restrictions on LGBT rights and opposition to same-sex marriage.
More than 2,000 people have signed up to join the publicly organised Women’s March On Downing Street Against The DUP or Love Equality NI’s March for Civil Marriage Equality in Belfast.
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.
A Women’s March organiser said that their event was “for self-defining women, kids, non-binary people and all who love and support us”.
As well as supporting “the right to access abortion in Northern Ireland,” they said the rally would also protest a Tory-DUP alliance.
They explained that such a deal would have “no democratic mandate,” and would be entered into with a party “known to promote policy which restricts the rights of women and LGBT people.”
Love Equality NI is a coalition involving Amnesty International, trade unions, the national student union and LGBT charities The Rainbow Project, Here NI and Cara-Friend.
Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK which does not yet allow same-sex marriage, because the DUP has employed peace process powers known as ‘petitions of concern’ to block all progress.
The president of the National Union of Students’ Irish branch, Fergal McFerran, said this was an opportunity to make their voices heard, with same-sex marriage rights in the public eye.
“After the general election, there’s been more attention given to equal rights here in Northern Ireland, mainly because of the record that the Northern Ireland Assembly has in terms of a lack of delivery,” he said.
McFerran added that his organisation wanted to take the chance to “ensure that a spotlight is shone on [the DUP’s] LGBT rights record here.”
The Downing Street protest will take place on June 24, while the march on Belfast City Hall is set for July 1.
Yesterday, Piers Morgan and Susanna Reid challenged a DUP official over homophobic views within the party.
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Morgan told former minister Nelson McCausland: “You’re a climate change denier, you think that homosexuality is wrong, you’re a creationist and you’re anti-abortion.
“These are views held by many people in the DUP.
“Whether they’re devolved or not as issues, the problem people over here have is what kind of mentality do they have, that Theresa May is prepared to rely solely on their support now to run a government over here?”
McCausland replied: “My personal view is…the Biblical position is, the relationship between man and woman should be within marriage, and the traditional definition of marriage is right.”
This lesbian couple in Belfast spoke to Love Equality NI about why they want same-sex marriage:
— Amanda Ferguson (@AmandaFBelfast) June 12, 2017