Belfast Telegraph

Unionist gay rights man Jeffrey Dudgeon eyeing seat as MP

By Rebecca Black

A veteran gay rights activist now hoping to become an MP says unionism has a "good chance" of reclaiming Belfast from nationalism in terms of Commons seats.

Jeffrey Dudgeon is one of the front-runners to be the agreed unionist candidate for South Belfast in the May general election.

He was one of two nominees voted through by the South Belfast Ulster Unionist Association last week, alongside Stormont special adviser Rodney McCune. It is understood the DUP is prepared to give the UUP a clear run in South Belfast if the UUP withdraws from East Belfast and North Belfast.

At the last Westminster election in 2010, Sinn Fein stood aside for SDLP leader Alasdair McDonnell in South Belfast, who held the seat. Unionists could not agree a joint candidate.

But SF candidate for the seat Mairtin O Muilleoir MLA said there was "zero possibility" that his party will step aside.

In an exclusive interview in today's Belfast Telegraph, Mr Dudgeon says there is a good chance of unionist candidates taking seats in East and South Belfast, and holding on to North Belfast to create a unionist majority of MPs in the city for the first time in over a decade.

"Unionism is poised to have an historic general election if everyone plays their part and common sense prevails," he says.

Mr Dudgeon also speaks about being questioned by the RUC in the 1970s about his sexuality and spearheading a case in the European courts to legalising homosexuality here.

He added: "We were of the time and we were angry, out and proud, so we stuck together and survived."

The Big Interview: We catch up with the UUP's Jeffrey Dudgeon 

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