The first openly gay member of Northern Ireland assembly has been appointed

The first openly gay member of the Northern Ireland assembly has been appointed.

John Blair of the centre-leaning Alliance party is to make history as when he take’s the party’s South Antrim seat, replacing retiring MLA David Ford.

“Since deciding to run for the MLA seat, I have received support and encouragement from right across the community, showing the progressive and positive alternative Alliance represents,” the newly elected MLA wrote.

“I want to be carrying out all the duties of an MLA, so it is vital the Secretary of State calls all-party talks with an independent mediator immediately, so we can all get back to Stormont and do the job people want us to do.

“I look forward to doing just that, while representing all the people of South Antrim and providing a strong voice for them, whether rural or urban.”

(Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images)As part of the party’s co-option rule, MLAs can be replaced by an inter-party vote to spare members of the public paying for a by-election.

Leader of the Alliance Party Naomi Long will be in attendance at PinkNews’ summer reception in Belfast on Thursday.

Northern Ireland’s biggest political leaders will all be meeting at the event to discuss LGBT+ rights.

The cross-party group, including Michelle O’Neill, Arlene Foster and Robin Swann will gather to debate LGBT+ topics from education to same-sex marriage.

As it stands, Northern Ireland is the only UK nation that has not legalised same-sex marriage.