The leader of the Northern Irish DUP party, known for her opposition to same-sex marriage, will speak at an LGBT+ summer reception tomorrow, a move that has been described as “extraordinary” .
Arlene Foster will join the leaders of other Northern Irish political parties on Thursday for a summer reception hosted by the website PinkNews.
The LGBT news website confirmed that Foster will meet LGBT+ campaigners, charities, businesses and politicians.
Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK where gay marriage remains illegal, and Foster’s socially conservative DUP remains staunchly opposed to it.
In 2015, the DUP blocked a narrow vote at the Northern Ireland assembly in favour of allowing a change in the law.
Speaking ahead of the reception, Northern Ireland minister Lord Springbank, who is gay and will be attending the event, said Foster’s presence was “quite extraordinary”.
But speaking in the House of Lords on Monday, he cautioned: “It is the beginning, not the end, of a journey.”
Theresa May has faced repeated calls to introduce marriage equality in Northern Ireland since power-sharing talks at Stormont broke down over a year ago.
Labour MP Conor McGinn introduced legislation to legalise same-sex marriage in March and said Westminster had “moral and political duty to act”.
“The assembly being in cold storage should not mean that Northern Ireland remains a cold house for LGBT rights,” he said at the time.
Pressure to introduce same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland grew after the Republic of Ireland voted in favour at a referendum in May.
The DUP did not respond to a request for comment.