On Monday afternoon, the leader of the DUP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson reportedly met with representatives from the LGBTQ+ organisation the Rainbow Project. Following a long history of anti-gay politics, this meeting may show signs of improving attitudes within the party towards the queer community.
According to Belfast Live, it is believed that this is the first time a DUP leader has attended a sit-down meeting with such an organisation, and a source described the event as “very pleasant and cordial.”
Earlier this year, a scheduled meeting between LGBTQ+ organisations and former party leader Arlene Foster was canceled after she stepped down from the position. In 2018, Foster made history as the first DUP leader to attend a queer event, addressing a PinkNews reception in the Parliament Buildings.
The DUP has a history of supporting and promoting anti-LGBTQ+ sentiment and policies, including party founder Ian Paisley Snr leading the “Save Ulster from Sodomy” campaign in the 1970s. The party also opposes same-sex marriage, and members have been known to make homophobic statements throughout the years, with former MP Iris Robinson describing same-sex relationships as “viler” than child sex abuse.
In July, DUP deputy leader Paula Bradley apologised for previous comments made against LGBTQ+ people by members of her party, calling them “absolutely atrocious”.
“I can certainly say I apologise for what others have said and done in the past because I do think that there has been some very hurtful comments and some language that really should not have been used,” she stated during a panel discussion hosted by PinkNews.
She added that the “shocking” remarks have “fed into the hatred that some people have had to endure in their life”.
DUP dep leader Paula Bradley has apologised for the "absolutely atrocious" comments made in the past by some in her party against LGBT people.
— Brendan Hughes (@brendanhughes64) July 1, 2021
DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson echoed her statement, saying that people should hold and express their views on social issues in a respectful way.
Little has been revealed on the content of Monday’s meeting at Stormont, with both parties yet to share comments or further information.
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