A DUP mayor has defended his party's decision to oppose a council push to make misogyny a hate crime.
On Tuesday night, Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council Mayor Alan Givan said a motion to support it as a standalone offence was a "gagging order on the type of comments that so many of us often make".
During the meeting, he insisted that his party "loves women", adding that there were "better ways to protect the ladies".
Mr Givan, a DUP's representative for Lisburn South, said: "I think it would be remiss as councillors to think that somehow we hate women in any way or would seek to do violence to women as a party or individual councillors.
"I can safely say that we love women and there is no hatred intended in what our party position is on this."
The motion, put forward by Green councillor Simon Lee, had also asked the council to recognise the effects of misogyny and transmisogyny on women, trans and non-binary people. It eventually passed by 24 votes to 14, with one abstention.
Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph on Wednesday, Mr Givan again repeated that his party "does not hate females in any way" and claimed that to suggest otherwise was "totally ridiculous".
He added: "For context, I had no prepared speech on the night as I didn't believe I was going to be called upon to say anything.
"We had only had one contribution from the party (by councillor Nathan Anderson), so just before the vote, I felt that I should make my own personal position clear. I feel that we were being made to look as though we were haters of females and that couldn't be further from the truth."
The outgoing mayor said he believes the law in general should be "all-encompassing" and offer protection for everyone, without singling out issues such as gender, disability and age.
"It has to be something that can be judged fairly and seen to be balanced," Mr Givan said.
"Once you start writing things into law in black and white and (saying) that a particular type of human being has to have extra protection, I think there is danger in that. The other people may then ask why they are not named in hate legislation.
"We shouldn't specifically single out a group as we all deserve protection. If the law needs strengthened, then it needs strengthened for everybody."
Mr Givan (64), whose son Paul is the DUP's Lagan Valley MLA, was a member of the Prison Service and worked at the Maze and later Maghaberry, before retiring in 2012.
He was elected to the council in 2014 and his one-year term as mayor of the borough comes to an end next week.
Mr Givan added that DUP councillors on Belfast City Council had strayed from the party line by supporting a similar motion in March.
He also rejected suggestions made by councillor Lee that some comments across the course of the debate on Tuesday night from the DUP contingent were "distasteful, unwelcome and unhelpful".
"Misogyny remains rife across society and we can see the manifestation of that in a spike of domestic abuse incidents during the lockdown period. Unfortunately, DUP members of the council choose to vote against the motion and some made unhelpful comments aimed at transgender people during the debate," cllr Lee said.
In response, Mayor Givan said: "Only two of us spoke, myself and cllr Anderson, and if you listen to the recording from the meeting, you will hear that we were not in any way disparaging to anyone.
"There was no malice spoken by either of us and I don't know where that has come from."
The SDLP, Alliance, Sinn Fein, the Green Party and UUP all voted in favour of the motion, while the UUP's Alderman Jim Dillon abstained and all DUP councillors present opposed it.