Belfast Telegraph

DUP urged to 'change its position' on LGBTI issues by Scottish Secretary

Scottish Secretary David Mundell has said he wants the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) to "change its position" on LGBTI issues.

Prime Minister Theresa May is due to meet DUP leader Arlene Foster on Tuesday t o finalise a deal on propping up her minority government.

Mr Mundell, Conservative MP for Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale, was reappointed Scottish Secretary in a post-election Cabinet reshuffle on Sunday.

He became the first openly-gay Conservative Cabinet secretary when he came out in January 2015.

Questioned on the DUP's stance on gay rights, he said he does "not subscribe" to the Northern Irish party's position.

Northern Ireland is the only part of the British Isles where same-sex marriage remains outlawed.

The DUP has repeatedly used a controversial Stormont voting mechanism - the petition of concern - to prevent the legalisation of same-sex marriage despite a majority of MLAs supporting the move at the last vote.

Mr Mundell told BBC Radio Scotland's Good Morning Scotland programme: " I don't subscribe to the DUP's position on these issues but the DUP will not be influencing these decisions within the rest of the United Kingdom.

"We're not in any way signing up to the DUP manifesto. Most of these issues are devolved to the Northern Ireland Assembly."

He added: "I would like to see the DUP change its position, and indeed Northern Ireland as a whole change its position, on LGBTI issues.

"Ruth Davidson has been very clear on that, she actually went out to Northern Ireland and set that out, so they can't be in any doubt where they stand on these issues.

"I think change is brought about, certainly in Northern Ireland, by persuasion, by people working together and the best way actually to achieve these is to get the Northern Ireland Assembly back up and running, and I hope that will also be possible."

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said careful scrutiny of any deal with the DUP would be needed to guard against any rollback of equalities legislation and also raised concerns on the impact on the Northern Irish peace process.

Writing in the Daily Record, she said: " The Good Friday Agreement requires the UK Government to be an impartial broker between parties in Northern Ireland and it would be shameful if, in the Tories' pursuit of power, they jeopardised the chances of a return to devolved government in Northern Ireland."

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie called on the Prime Minister to "abandon her embryonic alliance with the DUP before it does real and lasting damage".

He said: " Taking sides in the precarious politics of Northern Ireland could have significant ramifications for the whole of the UK including Scotland. The UK Government should be operating as an honest broker in Northern Ireland but that is impossible if it is in hock to one of the protagonists."

He added: " There is rightly anxiety about the DUP's views on abortion and gay rights and these views must not have an impact on government policy. Yet it is the constitutional threat that could have even wider and more immediate consequences."

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