DUP politicians’ anti-gay quotes set to music in new opera

A new opera is setting homophobic remarks from leading politicians to music.

Abomination: The DUP On Record is set to debut at Belfast’s Lyric Theatre on November 17, as part of the city’s Outburst queer arts festival.

The opera, penned by Northern Irish composer Conor Mitchell, features verbatim quotes from politicians within the region’s Democratic Unionist Party, which has strongly opposed LGBT rights.

Abomination: The DUP On Record

Though DUP leader Arlene Foster has sought to forge a more moderate stance on LGBT+ issues in the past year, there is plenty of material for the production to draw upon: DUP MP Iris Robinson claimed in 2008 that gay people are more vile than child abusers, while MP Ian Paisley Jr said in 2007, “I’m pretty repulsed by gay and lesbianism… I think that those people harm themselves and harm society.”

A rainbow flag is attached to the ‘Hands across the Divide’ sculpture by artist Maurice Harron in Northern Ireland on October 9, 2018. (Charles McQuillan/Getty)

A listing for the event explains it is a “timely, powerful and unapologetic new work that is a testament to the power and duty of artists… to fearlessly hold a mirror up to those in power.”

The opera takes words from “interviews, ‘casual’ remarks, parliamentary speeches and DUP members’ spoken and written words on LGBTQI+ rights.”

The release adds: “In 2018 Northern Ireland is cited as the most homophobic area in Western Europe. That homophobia goes right to the heart of our political leadership.

“With verbatim text, live orchestral instruments, actors and trademark video the Belfast Ensemble takes a cutting-edge look at this verbal record in a 21st century Belfast context.”

Northern Ireland is one of few remaining parts of Western Europe without equal marriage

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, Mitchell denied he was trying to “bash” the DUP, saying he chose to use people’s own words verbatim to avoid putting words into anyone’s mouth.

He said: “It was the DUP who put the words out there (…) these people feel they can say these things in the public domain.”

Mitchell added: “If I said the things about the DUP that they say about me, I would end up in court.”

Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK without equal marriage. Until 2016, the DUP employed a peace process power known as the petition of concern to veto progress on the issue, despite majority support in the Northern Ireland Assembly.

The assembly has been unable to sit since January 2017, when a power-sharing deal between the DUP and Irish republican party Sinn Féin collapsed.

With no devolved government in Northern Ireland following the collapse, LGBT+ rights campaigners have called on the UK and Irish governments to secure a direct equal marriage settlement in the region.