Theresa May has reportedly told Conservative Party backbenchers that government policy will not be affected by the Democratic Unionist Party’s (DUP) views on “LGB… what’s the rest of it.”
The Prime Minister is alleged to have made the comment as she met with the Conservative party’s 1922 Committee of backbenchers yesterday (June 13), as she continues to negotiate a deal with the DUP following the outcome of last Friday’s general election, which resulted in a hung parliament.
After losing her parliamentary majority, May confirmed that she would seek to work with “friends and allies” in the DUP; a party that as well as opposing abortion has blocked the introduction of equal marriage in Northern Ireland at least four times.
The news has seen a backlash from many within May’s own party, but while attempting to reassure her MPs that the DUP’s anti-gay stance would not affect government policy yeseterday, the PM apparently forgot the widely-used acronym for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
HuffPost editor Paul Waugh tweeted: “Tory MP says May reassured 1922 that DUP “views on LGB…what’s the rest of it?” would not affect Govt policy.”
Tory MP says May reassured 1922 that DUP “views on LGB…what’s the rest of it?” would not affect Govt policy.
— Paul Waugh (@paulwaugh) June 12, 2017
While it remains unclear whether May herself used the term, or the Tory MP did so himself while relaying the story, the incident will do little to allay the LGBT community’s fears over a potential deal between a Conservative government and the DUP, which has a long and well-documented history of opposition to gay equality.
Currently lead by former First Minister of Northern Ireland Arlene Foster, 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.
Theresa May herself has a chequered past when it comes to LGBT rights: She previously voted against giving gay couples the right to adopt, and in 2000 she voted against the repeal of section 28.
However, she did vote for civil partnerships in 2004, and for gay marriage in 2013. In 2014, she also announced that her views on gay adoption had changed and that she now supported it.
Meanwhile, it was alleged earlier this week that the DUP asked the Scottish Government to prevent Northern Irish gay couples from getting married on Scottish soil following the legalisation of equal marriage in 2014.
Marco Biagi, former minister in the SNP government in Holyrood, alleges that the DUP-controlled Stormont Executive sent an official letter to the Scottish Government asking them to stop allowing same-sex couples from Northern Ireland from getting married in Scotland.