Belfast Telegraph

Gay rights group offers to help TUV

Gay rights campaigners have offered to help the TUV obtain information on government funding of their sector.

The party has criticised the Stormont Executive for failing to respond to a freedom of information request on how much has been spent supporting Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) groups.

TUV Strangford candidate Terry Williams, who opposes funding for the sector, has demanded that the Office of First Minister and Deputy First Minister (OFMDFM) reveals the figures.

Now in an unexpected gesture, the Northern Ireland Gay Rights Association (NIGRA) has offered to provide all the details to the TUV instead - and asked for a meeting with the party.

NIGRA president PA MagLochlainn said: "We feel sympathy for Strangford TUV candidate Terry Williams, who recently complained that OFMDFM has refused to tell him what funding they provide for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender groups."

He said he wanted to meet TUV representatives to discuss issues of concern to the LGBT community. Ulster Unionist leader Tom Elliott recently accepted a similar invitation from Mr MagLochlainn for a meeting.

He added: "As we discovered during our recent cordial meeting with Tom Elliott and UUP members, we have many matters of mutual interest to address, such as the scandalous underfunding of essential services for LGBT people, community education to help eradicate homophobia, and initiatives to combat the scourge of young LGBT suicides."

At the launch of the TUV election manifesto in east Belfast, Mr Williams said he would consider the offer of a meeting. But he reiterated his concerns about government funding going to the LGBT sector.

"I'm basically saying that the money that goes into this country should go first of all on health, education and employment," he said. "It's not an endless pit of money, we look at everything in the round, I personally as a Christian would not support money going to that side of things, so that's me, sorry, that's the person I am."

In regard to any future meeting with NIGRA he added: "I would have to give some consideration to it."

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