“Ards Town Hall has been lit up before and there’s no reason why it shouldn’t continue.”
Tom Smith, a DUP councillor who represents Donaghadee and Bangor East, voted in favour of lighting up the Northern Ireland town hall in the rainbow colours to show support for LGBT+ Pride days in the Ards and North Down area.
The motion brought forward by Alliance councillors Gavin Walker and Andrew Muir was opposed by Smith’s five DUP colleagues but was supported by three Ulster Unionist and two Alliance councillors.
The motion will now move onto another council meeting next week, which will determine if full approval will be given to light up the town hall in the rainbow colours.
Speaking about the decision, Cllr Gavin Walker told the Belfast Telegraph, “We’re obviously delighted that the motion was recommended, though that still comes against objections from five of the six DUP members on the corporate affairs committee.”
Walker also explained how his experience as a father of a gay man influences his stance on the issue, saying, “As the father of a gay man, I know how much value parents place on creating an environment where our children can feel valued and accepted at a time when they need support in understanding their own minds and bodies.”
Although the majority of DUP councillors voted against the motion, Walker hopes that Cllr Smith can have an influence over his DUP colleagues to pass the motion “as it should be.”
“Ards Town Hall has been lit up before and there’s no reason why it shouldn’t continue,” Walker added.
Only last month, the DUP sought to block the decision to fly rainbow flags over civic buildings during Belfast Pride celebrations, employing a call-in mechanism where a decision can be repealed if 15 per cent of councillors request it.
The party’s leader Arlene Foster has consistently claimed that the party has no anti-LGBT+ sentiment, but the DUP has often come under fire for their stance on certain LGBT+ issues, such as marriage equality.
Speaking at a PinkNews event in June, Foster said, “All I ask is that my, and our views, are also respected if not agreed with.” Foster went on to claim that she, along with her party, value LGBT+ citizens in Northern Ireland despite opposing marriage equality.
The DUP has a history of dehumanising LGBT+ people, with former member Ian Paisley referring to homosexual partnerships as “immoral, offensive and obnoxious.”
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