The DUP’s leader has insisted her party are not “homophobes” as their track record of opposing LGBT rights comes into the limelight.
The 10-MP party, largely unknown to the British public outside Northern Ireland, is in talks with the Tories to prop them up after they lost their majority in Theresa May’s snap election.
The DUP has resisted LGBT rights in Northern Ireland, as well as reforming the province’s draconian abortion laws.
The party has repeatedly voted down gay marriage and resisted a 2013 High Court judgment that would introduce gay adoption, in line with the rest of the UK.
The DUP’s position has caused consternation. Journalist Owen Jones, who is leading a demonstration in London against the prospect of the DUP in Government, has called it “a menace to LGBT rights and women’s rights”.
DUP leader Arlene Foster told ITV News it was “complete and utter nonsense” to say her party was homophobic.
She said: “There’s been a lot of hyperbole talked about our position to the gay community.
“Much of it is complete and utter nonsense, I have to say.
“We take a particular view in relation to the definition of marriage; that does not mean in any one way that we are homophobic.”
Shadow Defence Secretary Nia Griffiths told Pink News: “We want to see proper LGBT rights across the UK, and here we have a party that has consistently opposed LGBT equality deciding the government.”
Crispin Blunt, a gay Tory backbencher, said he did not think the DUP’s position was a problem that would stop them
He told Channel 4 News he was “quite queasy about their social conservatism... I wouldn’t share that but that’s nothing to do with my constituents”.
He said any future LGBT rights issue would either take place in Northern Ireland’s devolved assembly or in the House of Commons where it is “subject to a massive liberal majority”.