DUP’s only out gay lawmaker is ‘very sorry’ to see Arlene Foster go for some reason

Arlene Foster (left) and Alison Bennington (right)

The DUP’s only out gay lawmaker, Alison Bennington, has said she is “very sorry” to see Arlene Foster resign as party leader.

On Thursday (29 April), Foster resigned as first minister of Northern Ireland and as leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) after three quarters of her elected representatives signed a letter of no confidence.

Bennington, a DUP councillor who was elected to her Glengormley Urban Area seat in the north-west of Newtownabbey in May 2019, told the News Letter: “I’m very sorry to see her go. Very sorry.”

Foster has long been a vocal opponent to marriage equality and LGBT+ rights. Asked by the publication what her own views were on same-sex marriage, Bennington responded: “I’ll keep that opinion to myself, thank you.”

Foster even attempted to block the conversion therapy ban which received overwhelming support in the Assembly last week, insisting that churches should be given and exemption, and tabling an amendment to remove a line that said it is “fundamentally wrong to view our LGBTQ community as requiring a fix or cure”.

Anti-LGBT+ politician Edwin Poots tipped as possible DUP leader

Bennington refused to say who she would like to see replace Arlene Foster, adding: “It’s up to those who are up in the hierarchy to consider what way they want to take the party forward… I don’t have all the detail of who said what or who did what, so I won’t comment on that either until I get that information.

“I’ll just wait and see what the outcome is. I’ll have no say in it, so I won’t I’m sure.”

But if an anti-LGBT+ leader is what Bennington is into, then a politician tipped to replace Foster might be right up her street.

Former health minister Edwin Poots is already being named by political pundits as a potential future DUP leader, and he has a long history of opposing LGBT+ rights.

Poots, a “young earth creationist” who doesn’t believe in evolution, previously used used thousands in public funds to try to stop same-sex couples from legally adopting children, fought to stop queer men from donating blood in Northern Ireland, and said when Foster became leader of the DUP that her “most important job” remained “that of a wife, mother and daughter“.