LGBT Labour NI slam DUP over anti-gay ‘conscience’ bill

PinkNews logo surrounded by illustrated images including a rainbow, unicorn, PN sign and pride flag.

The Northern Ireland Labour Party’s LGBT group has attacked plans by the DUP to introduce a conscience clause – which would allow religious people to discriminate against gay people.

Ashers Baking Company in Belfast made headlines this year when it refused to make a cake for a gay rights activist featuring the message “Support Gay Marriage”, above an image of Sesame Street’s Bert and Ernie.

The Northern Ireland Equality Commission said the decision of Ashers broke anti-discrimination laws.

But yesterday the DUP launched a consultation on a Private Members Bill that would allow people with strongly held religious views to discriminate against gay people based on their “conscience”.

It was tabled by Lagan Valley DUP MLA Paul Givan. DUP First Minister Peter Robinson gave his backing to the bill in a speech at Stormont.

Northern Ireland’s largest LGBT support organisation, the Rainbow Project, said it will “strenuously oppose” what it described as “this unnecessary and irrational form of discrimination”.

LGBT Labour NI spokesperson David Mcnerlin also condemned the move.

He said: “The DUP are the same old DUP. They have not changed. The DUP don’t want a gay about the place.”

Mr Mcnerlin added: “Northern Ireland lags far behind the rest of (the) UK on equality measures. We ban same-sex marriage. The DUP are still refusing to lift the lifetime ban on gay men giving blood.

“LGBT Labour NI says the LGBT community are part of Northern Ireland, and that Northern Ireland needs an equality act.”

The Equality Act 2010 for England, Wales and Scotland does not apply to Northern Ireland.

It states that it’s illegal to refuse to provide goods and services based upon a person’s sexual orientation and gender identity.