news

Theresa May could enter a coalition with homophobic DUP after hung parliament election result

2017-06-09

Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) are being considered possible 'kingmakers' for Theresa May's Conservatives after the general election ended in a hung parliament. As the results stand, the Conservatives have 316 seats and Labour are on 261, with three constituencies still to be declared. The Tories needed 326 seats to claim a parliamentary majority. The result is a massive upset for the Conservatives. The election was called with the goal of strengthening Theresa May's majority in negotiating Britain's exit from the EU. She has now lost the small majority she had to begin with. The DUP won 10 of Northern Ireland's 18 seats - up 2 from the party's result in 2015. A coalition between the Conservatives and the DUP would give the parties the 326 seats required to form a government.   However, in a time when the Conservative Party are trying to distance themselves from the anti-gay policies of their past governments, a possible coalition with the DUP could see the stalling of the LGBT rights progress made in recent years, or even the return of anti-LGBT+ legislation in Northern Ireland. The DUP has a long history of anti-LGBT+ campaigning stemming from its inception. The party was founded by Ian Paisley in the early 1970s. He was anti-EU and opposed Northern Ireland's civil rights movement. He was also staunchly anti-gay. In 1977 he launched the 'Save Ulster from Sodomy' campaign, which sought to prevent the decriminalisation of homosexuality in Northern Ireland. Paisley died in 2014, but these views are still widely held in the party. Paisley's son and North Antrim MP Ian Paisley Jr. said of homosexuality in 2007: "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. That doesn't mean to say that I hate them. I mean, I hate what they do." The DUP has blocked equal marriage legislation multiple times in the Northern Ireland assembly - most recently in November 2015, when a majority of the Assembly actually voted to legalise same-sex marriage, only for the DUP to effectively veto the measure under the terms of Stormont's power-sharing agreement. In 2013, the younger Paisley appeared on BBC's Question Time to air his opposition to equal marriage. The DUP's Health Minister Jim Wells resigned from his post in 2015 after he suggested gay parents are more likely to abuse their children. "The facts show that you certainly don’t bring a child up in a homosexual relationship. That child is far more likely to be abused or neglected," Wells said. Iris Robinson, former MP and wife of former First Minister of Northern Ireland Peter Robinson called homosexuality “disgusting, loathsome, nauseating, wicked and vile” in 2008. She also called said homosexuality is an “abomination” that can be “cured”. Her husband supported her views. "It wasn’t Iris Robinson who determined that homosexuality was an abomination, it was The Almighty," he said. "This is the Scriptures. It is a strange world indeed where somebody on the one hand talks about equality, but won't allow Christians to have the equality, the right to speak, the right to express their views." Iris Robinson later resigned from her position after BBC Spotlight uncovered her affair with a 19-year-old man and accusations of financial irregularities. If the Conservatives form a government with the DUP then this is the kind of rhetoric that will be brought to the forefront of British politics. More stories: Breaking: Scottish Episcopal Church approves same-sex marriage Patti LuPone says she would ‘not perform’ for Donald and Melania Trump