Ruth Davidson, leader of the Scottish Conservative Party, stormed off during a television interview after she was asked about whether she considers the DUP ‘friends’.
Theresa May failed to get an overall majority in this week’s General Election, and she’s now in the midst of securing a deal with the anti-gay DUP to secure a majority to govern with.
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.
In announcing her plan to form a partnership with the party on Friday, Theresa May called the DUP ‘friends and allies’.
In the aftermath of the announcement, Davidson (whose partner, Jen, is Irish) tweeted a link to a speech she gave about marriage equality. Davidson told the BBC that she had sought assurances from the Prime Minister on the protection of LGBT+ rights in any deal made with the DUP.
However, Davidson became visibly irritated when she was asked about the deal during an interview with Channel 4 on Saturday (June 10). The reporter asked: “Theresa May yesterday described the DUP as her friends, the Conservative Party’s friends. Are you prepared to use that word, are they your friends?”
She replied: “Well look I have friends in politics across many parties, but what I spoke to the Prime Minister about yesterday was the need for a categoric assurance that talking with the DUP would not result in any rollback of any LBGT rights in the rest of the UK.
“Because as the Conservative Party, we are the party of equal marriage, we introduced it to the House of Commons.
“And also we would use our influence to try and advance LGBT rights in Northern Ireland and they are the assurances that I got.”
Davidson then walked away from the reporter as he was asking a follow-up question.
As a Protestant Unionist about to marry an Irish Catholic, here’s the Amnesty Pride lecture I gave in Belfast…https://t.co/NdRaT2s3W5
— Ruth Davidson (@RuthDavidsonMSP) June 9, 2017
Founded in the early 1970s by evangelical Protestant minister and loyalist Ian Paisley, in 1977 the DUP 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.