Belfast Telegraph

DUP vows not to sponsor future LGBTQ Stormont events after 'disgraceful' drag queen speech

By Victoria Leonard

The DUP said one of its MLAs has learned a "salient lesson" after giving her backing to an LGBT event at Stormont - and that no one in the party will co-sponsor it in the future.

It comes after a video emerged of a drag queen shouting "Up the f****** queers" in Stormont's Great Hall during last weekend's Alternative Queer Ulster event.

Prior to the event, TUV leader Jim Allister raised concerns in the Belfast Telegraph about the appearance of drag queen Electra (28), who wore a tiara coated with dried HIV-infected blood to Belfast Pride 2016.

Footage of last Saturday night's event shows Electra making derogatory remarks relating to Mr Allister.

At the end of her speech, she shouts "Up the f****** queers" into the microphone while punching the air.

The speech took place in front of around 180 people at the event, organised by the Queer Greens.

The video has been viewed over 43,000 times on social media.

The event was co-sponsored by the DUP's North Belfast MLA Paula Bradley and Sinn Fein's Newry and Armagh MLA Megan Fearon, with South Belfast Green Party MLA Clare Bailey as the main sponsor.

Ms Bailey was the only sponsor to attend.

Outgoing Green Party leader Steven Agnew and Alliance MLA John Blair were also present, while UUP MLA Mike Nesbitt attended but left early due to another engagement.

Reacting to the video, Mr Allister challenged the DUP over whether they would support similar events in future.

Mr Allister said: "Before this event took place, I challenged the suitability of this speaker to address a gathering at Stormont given his track record.

"The speaker's repeated use of language which cannot be printed or broadcast underscore that those concerns were well-grounded. Given that sponsors are responsible for these events I would challenge those who facilitated it, particularly the DUP MLA and her party, to spell out why this event took place.

"The capacity of the speaker to act as he did on Saturday was well-known in advance.

"Why therefore did it go ahead and are the DUP happy to help facilitate similar events in future?"

In response, the DUP said no one from the party would co-sponsor the event in future and that Paula Bradley had learned a "salient lesson".

The DUP said: "Comments made at this event were disgraceful and not at all respectful. Paula Bradley co-sponsored the event without knowing many details about the event. She was not acting on behalf of the party and has learned a salient lesson.

"Neither Paula nor anyone else from the party would act as a co-sponsor for such an event in the future. The Assembly Commission may wish to review the event alongside the Assembly's protocols for using the building."

DUP MLA Jim Wells, who had the party whip withdrawn following criticism of the leadership, said "people will be horrified" by Electra's behaviour and claimed she had "done nothing but discredit the Assembly" and her cause.

Event organiser Mal O'Hara previously said he hoped to hold the event annually.

He said: "The 22 speakers talked about their experiences as same-sex people. Some of the speakers were angry, some very funny and some were emotional. The event was intended to platform the experiences of our LGBTQ community.

"It was about listening to them - not dictating what they should or shouldn't have said."

An Assembly spokeswoman said the event had "fully conformed" to the requirement of the Northern Ireland Assembly Commission's 2016 Events in Parliament Buildings and its grounds policy that all events and tours with hospitality "must be sponsored by at least three members to reflect cross designation support".

Sinn Fein said: "Sinn Fein will continue to support events organised by the LGBTQI+ community and the campaign for rights including an end to the denial of marriage equality."

Belfast Telegraph

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