Ulster Unionist Party leader Doug Beattie apologises for ‘outrageous’ transphobic, racist tweets

Doug Beattie at an event marking the centenary of Northern Ireland

Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) leader Doug Beattie is facing resounding criticism after transphobic, racist and misogynistic historic tweets were unearthed.

The furore erupted over the weekend when Beattie posted what he claimed was a joke about Edwin Poots, a Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) minister, and his wife. He was widely criticised for the comment, which he later deleted.

Subsequently, a series of historic tweets posted by Beattie between 2012 and 2014 resurfaced. In the tweets – which were posted before he entered politics – Beattie used transphobic and racist slurs.

He also posted misogynistic tweets. In one, he suggested that women can “get away with” touching a man without consent, whereas men can’t. He also claimed that women are unable to read maps.

In one tweet, Beattie wrote: “What is it with women these days. Held a door open for 2 women & swear the looked at me as if I was a rapist. Being a man is hard work.”

Other offending tweets saw Beattie making derogatory comments about Travellers and Muslims. One comment mocked those who suffer from mental illnesses.

Doug Beattie denied he was a misogynist and a racist

Beattie addressed many of the comments during a radio appearance on The Stephen Nolan Show on BBC Radio Ulster on Tuesday (25 January). He admitted that the tweets were “misogynistic”, but denied he is a misogynist.

He went on to say that he was “deeply sorry” for the comments and apologised in particular to women “who may feel let down”.

When asked about his use of a racist slur, which he used in a conversation about the film Django Unchained, Beattie said: “What I was trying to do was enter a conversation, that conversation was that we used words in the past which would not be acceptable today and this is one of those words.”

There is a litany of abuse on his account and the public will make up its own mind on that. These regressive, outdated attitudes in society must be faced down.

He added: “I’m not a racist, I’m simply not a racist in any shape or form.”

There was ardent speculation on Tuesday that Beattie’s political career could come to an end as a result of the scandal – however, it appears that he has weathered the storm.

Meanwhile, Poots has instructed his solicitors to begin defamation proceedings against Beattie and Tory MP Simon Hoare over a tweet posted at the weekend.

Beattie’s tweets ‘helped perpetuate a problematic culture’

Beattie is facing widespread backlash over the historic tweets. Eóin Tennyson, an Alliance Party councillor, told PinkNews that it was “difficult to come to terms with the sheer volume of outrageous misogynistic, transphobic, racist and Islamophobic tweets posted by Doug Beattie”.

He continued: “This wasn’t a one-off, but a sustained pattern of behaviour over a period of years which will have upset so many and helped perpetuate a problematic culture towards women and so many others within society.

“It’s completely a matter for the UUP as to who leads them. All I can say is: I know I certainly couldn’t support someone who espoused such views to lead the party I am a member of.”

Beattie’s comments were also condemned by Michelle O’Neill, vice president of Sinn Féin, who said his tweets were “outrageous and totally unacceptable”.

“There is a litany of abuse on his account and the public will make up its own mind on that. These regressive, outdated attitudes in society must be faced down.”

Beattie has also faced criticism on social media after he liked a tweet which said he had “nothing to apologise for”.

PinkNews has contacted Beattie for comment.