Belfast Telegraph

LGBTQ event at Stormont "an utter disgrace" says MLA Jim Wells

By Gareth Cross

DUP MLA Jim Wells has branded an LGBTQ event held at Stormont on Saturday night as an "utter disgrace".

Alternative Queer Ulster hosted the event which allowed members of the LGBTQ community to share their stories as part of Pride Week 2018.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph Mr Wells said that "no MLA should have sponsored or attended the event."

The DUP MLA had the party whip withdrawn in May after claiming the DUP leadership broke promises to reinstate him as Health Minister, a claim the DUP deny.

While Health Minister Mr Wells was persistent in his belief that gay men should not be allowed to donate blood.

His DUP party colleague Paula Bradley was one of those sponsoring the event at Parliament Buildings but, Mr Wells said that all sponsors should have withdrawn their support for the event regardless of which party they represented.

"There's levels of decency in public life and I think it's important that public representatives maintain those," the South Down MLA said.

Mr Wells particularly objected to drag queen Electra La C**** taking part in the event, the performer once wore a tiara coated with HIV positive blood.

"I believe that once it became apparent the background, the views and the utterances of one of those taking part the sponsors of the event should have withdrawn their support immediately.

"I have had alot of people who think that this went too far and that this event should not have been held at the seat of the Government of Northern Ireland, it would have been more appropriate in a private venue.

"I believe that once it became apparent on Thursday the nature of the event then sponsorship should have been immediately pulled. The event should have been cancelled."

Three MLAs must sponsor an event before it can be held at Stormont.

The Alternative Queer Ulster event was sponsored by the DUP's North Belfast MLA Paula Bradley, Sinn Fein's Newry and Armagh MLA Megan Fearon and South Belfast Green Party MLA Clare Bailey.

"Sponsors vouch for the conduct of those present, and it's a reflection on you," Mr Wells said.

"The event has brought embarrassment and ridicule to the Northern Ireland Assembly.

"This event was tasteless and has brought the Northern Ireland Assembly and Stormont into disrepute.

"Steps must be taken to prevent a similar type of event taking place in Parliament Buildings again."

Green Party MLA Claire Bailey attended the event on Saturday evening and said it was important to give LGBTQ people a voice.

"This was an important event because we heard from LGBTQ people on the issues that matter most to them," the South Belfast MLA said.

“We have had a really impressive and engaging mix of discourse, activism and advocacy. The speakers were colourful, candid and compelling."

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