Northern Ireland DUP councillor backs LGBT rainbow town hall, defying party line

Belfast Pride

A Democratic Unionist Party councillor voted to light up a town hall in Northern Ireland in rainbow colours to mark Pride days.

Tom Smith, who represents Donaghadee and Bangor East, voted in favour of lighting up Ards Town Hall, going against five party colleagues who voted against the move.

The decision will now go to a council meeting next week for full approval.

“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,” Alliance party councillor Gavin Walker told the Belfast Telegraph.

Belfast Pride (Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

“We’re now looking forward to the full council meeting on September 26. We’ll wait and see if Cllr Smith can have any influence on his DUP colleagues in making sure this motion is passed as it should be.

“Ards Town Hall has been lit up before and there’s no reason why it shouldn’t continue.”

Mr Walker added: “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.”

The motion was supported by six councillors – three Ulster Unionist, two Alliance party and one DUP. Five DUP councillors voted against lighting up the hall.

Earlier this month, Northern Ireland’s former health minister Jim Wells faced criticism for attacking the provision of PrEP (Pre-exposure prophylaxis), a method of HIV prevention.

Gay rights campaigners take part in a march through Belfast to protest against the ban on same-sex marriage (PAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty)

The drug is already available for at-risk groups including men who have sex with men in Scotland, while large-scale public trials are ongoing in England and Wales

A trial site was also announced in Belfast, but the country’s former health minister lashed out at the decision on BBC Radio Ulster’s Talkback show.

“Can you imagine a situation where a drug company came up with a cure for lung cancer as a result of smoking… Would we make that drug universally available to all smokers, or else would we continue to urge smokers to continue to give up?

“I think it would be the latter, and what we’re saying here to people is, ‘If you do behave in a way that is taking huge risks, we will spend a large amount of taxpayers’ money so that you can take this drug to prevent you from becoming infected.’”

The politician has also previously branded Belfast Pride parade “repugnant,” called for LGBT events “promoting alternative lifestyles” to be banned from the Northern Ireland Assembly buildings, and vowed to boycott Primark because of its LGBT collection.