GAY global news

DUP speech at Irish LGBTI event a ‘missed opportunity’

Written by gaytourism

DUP’s Arlene Foster attended LGBTI summer event

The first ever speech given by a Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) leader at an LGBTI event on Thursday has been branded a disappointing ‘missed opportunity’.

Boyd: Wants stronger bond with DUP. Photo: Gavin Boyd

Gavin Boyd, policy and advocacy manager at The Rainbow Project, said there was much anticipation surrounding DUP leader Arlene Foster’s attendance, but that the speech ’didn’t feel like it was for the people in the room’.

Foster failed to address LGBTI issues during speech

‘She didn’t talk about anything to do with LGBTI people, she didn’t address any of the issues, she didn’t talk about kids in schools, safety in communities, mental health’, Boyd told website BelfastLive.

’I think it was just really disappointing for a lot of people in the room. It could have been amazing.’

‘We were hoping that Arlene Foster would give some recognition to the hurt and pain which has been inflicted on LGBT people by seniors members of her party,’ Boyd told Gay Star News, ‘and give some indication that she would ensure the party stops being synonymous with homophobia.’

Foster was speaking at a summer LGBTI event at Stormont Castle in Ireland organised by PinkNews. Many saw the DUP’s presence this year as an important first step in strengthening the relationship between the political group and Ireland’s LGBTI people.

Foster, though, did pay tribute to the talent and contribution of the LGBTI community: ’I wanted to acknowledge the contribution of the LGBTI community in Northern Ireland and to recognize the reality of diversity among our citizens.

“I wanted to recognize that some of our brightest and best in this country are part of the LGBTI community.

“I wanted to send a clear message from this event, that we are all someone’s child and we are all a valued part of this wonderful place we call home.”

However, she then also told the audience that her views also needed to be respected: ‘Just because we disagree on marriage does not mean that I don’t value the LGBTI community’, she said.

‘It is not a zero-sum game. All I ask in return is that my, and our views, are also respected if not agreed with.’

Foster at LGBTI Stormont event. Photo: Screenshot from Youtube video

Despite his misgivings over foster’s speech, Boyd said he hopes it will the start of better conversations between the DUP and LGBTI community.

‘It has to be welcomed that, after years and years of invitations, finally the DUP has attended an LGBTI event’ he told BelfastLive. ‘There’s no getting around the fact that that needs to be welcomed.’

‘We have Belfast Pride coming up at the end of July, is she going to participate in any of those events?’

‘If this is the start of a reconciliation process between the LGBTI community and the DUP then they’ve got to show something, they’ve got to come along and meet us halfway on some of these important issues.

The Belfast Pride parade is due to take place on 4 August.

See also:

Politician says gay brother felt unwelcome in Northern Ireland

Ireland apologizes to men convicted of historical gay sex crimes

Got a news tip? Want to share your story? Email us .