May to work with climate change deniers who blocked same-sex marriage

Written by David Singleton on 9 June 2017 in Diary

One DUP politician recently declared that 'Peter will not marry Paul in Northern Ireland'.

Theresa May has struck a deal with the Democratic Unionists that will allow her to form a government. But who are the the DUP and what do they stand for?

The Northern Irish party backed Brexit in last year’s referendum campaign and are fully committed to the decision to leave the European Union. But DUP leader Arlene Foster is keen to avoid a hard border with Ireland and has said that "no-one wants to see a hard Brexit".

She added: "We need to do it in a way that respects the specific circumstances of Northern Ireland, and, of course, our shared history and geography with the Republic of Ireland."

If that could cause tensions, some of the party’s other policy positions could be even more problematic for tolerant Tories.

The DUP has a hard-line stance against gay marriage, with former health minister Jim Wells telling the Belfast Telegraph this year: "Peter will not marry Paul in Northern Ireland."

In 2015, a majority of Northern Ireland Assembly members voted in favour of same-sex marriage for the first time. But it never happened after the DUP used a controversial veto mechanism to block any change to legislation.

It was this attitude that promoted David Cameron to speak out when the prospect of a coalition with the DUP was raised in 2015. Cameron refused to rule out a coalition with DUP MPs but said he "profoundly disagreed" with the DUP’s policy on gay rights and would "never validate" it.

The DUP is also in favour of strict abortion laws and its leader has vowed to prevent the Abortion Act 1967 being extended to Northern Ireland.

After being elected unopposed last year, Foster told the Guardian: "I would not want abortion to be as freely available here as it is in England and don’t support the extension of the 1967 act."

And to cap it off, the DUP is also home to a number of climate change deniers such as veteran former finance minister Sammy Wilson, who has said that spending billions on trying to reduce carbon emissions is a con.

Climate change scepticism is not official party policy, but Wilson has stated: "I think in 20 years’ time we will look back at this whole climate change debate and ask ourselves how on earth were we ever conned into spending the billions of pounds which are going into this without any kind of rigorous examination of the background, the science, the implications of it all."


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