01/08/2012

First DUP Politician Attends Pride Event

The current mayor of Belfast has become the first DUP politician to attend a gay pride event.

Gavin Robinson took part in a discussion event called Belfast Pride Talks Back yesterday evening.

He said he accepted the invitation because he wanted to "engage with every section of our community".

The comment echoes the 27-year-old's reasoning for speaking at the launch of the West Belfast Festival programme last month.

But in a move that may placate traditionalist members of his party, he said it was still the DUP's view that marriage should be between a man and a woman.

When Mr Robinson became lord mayor, he said he hoped to "represent all citizens of Belfast".

The meeting was held at Belfast's Europa hotel and about 300 people were present.

Other speakers included Sinn Fein MEP Martina Anderson, Conal McDevitt from the SDLP, Ulster Unionist Michael Copeland, Anna Lo from Alliance and Stephen Agnew from the Green Party.

Ms Anderson welcomed the DUP's involvement but called it a "pinch yourself moment".

She said: "The DUP are on a learning curve and it was good to see Gavin here tonight. I’m glad he accepted the invite and I hope it's a sign of things to come."

Some of Mr Robinson's party colleagues have been criticised in recent years for comments they have made about gay men and lesbians.

In 2007 Ian Paisley Junior said he was "repulsed" by homosexuality and two years later Iris Robinson, then a public representative, called gayness an "abomination".

She claimed gay people could be "turned around" with public counselling.

(NE)

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