Theresa May has confirmed that she will form a minority Conservative government propped up by Northern Ireland’s anti-gay Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) following the results of yesterday’s general election (June 9).
May will seek to implement her manifesto with the informal support of the DUP; a party that has blocked the introduction of same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland at least four times, and has a long history of opposition to LGBT rights.
Last night’s election saw the Conservatives’ lose their parliamentary majority of 17, winning just 318 seats – eight short of the threshold of 326 needed to create a majority government.
With 649 of 650 constituencies declared, the Labour party have 266 seats, the Scottish National Party (SNP) 33 seats, the Liberal Democrats 12 seats, and the Green party just one seat.
Welsh nationalist party Plaid Cymru ended the night with four seats, while Ireland’s DUP and Sinn Fein won 10 and 7 seats respectively.
After holding an audience with the Queen on Friday (June 9), Theresa May addressed reporters outside 10 Downing Steet, where she announced the formation of a minority Conservative government, and confirmed it would work with “friends and allies” in the DUP in order to get its agenda through parliament.
She told reporters: “What the country needs more than ever is certainty, and having secured the largest number of votes and the greatest number of seats in the general election, it is clear that only the Conservative and Unionist party has the legitimacy and ability to provide that certainty by commanding a majority in the House of Commons.
“As we do, we will continue to work with our friends and allies in the Democratic Unionist Party in particular.”
The DUP, which is currently lead by former First Minister of Northern Ireland Arlene Foster, has a long and well-documented history of opposing LGBT equality.
Founded in the early 1970s by evangelical Protestant minister and loyalist Ian Paisley, in 1977 it launched the ‘Save Ulster from Sodomy’ campaign, which sought to prevent the decriminalisation of homosexuality in Northern Ireland.
In recent years the party has consistently blocked the introduction of same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland, which remains the only region in the UK where gay people are denied the right to marry.
In November 2015, a historic breakthrough appeared to have been reached when a majority of the Northern Ireland Assembly voted to legalise marriage equality, only for the DUP to effectively veto the measure under the terms of Stormont’s power-sharing agreement.
Meanwhile, many DUP politicians have been personally condemned for making homophobic remarks.
In 2015, Northern Ireland’s DUP Health Minister Jim Wells was forced to resign after suggesting that gay parents are more likely to abuse their children.
In 2007, Paisley’s son and North Antrim MP Ian Paisley Jr. said of homosexuality: “I am pretty repulsed by gay and lesbianism. I think it is wrong.
“I think that those people harm themselves and – without caring about it – harm society. That doesn’t mean to say that I hate them. I mean, I hate what they do.”