DUP council candidate Bennington party's first ever openly gay politician
A DUP woman standing in the upcoming council elections has become the party's first ever openly gay politician.
Alison Bennington is a DUP candidate for Glengormley Urban area of Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council.
Ms Bennington, speaking to the Irish News, said: "I am delighted to have been selected as a DUP council candidate. I am putting myself before the electorate based on what I can deliver for them as a councillor working alongside a strong team of colleagues, not based on my sexual orientation.
"I regard my private and family life as a matter for myself in the same way as everyone else."
The move by the DUP is considered a significant step in a bid to reach out to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in Northern Ireland. The party has been considered as hostile towards the LGBT community in the past.
The DUP remains opposed to same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland, which is the only part of the UK where it remains outlawed.
Former DUP leader Ian Paisley led the "Save Ulster from Sodomy" campaign in the 1970s against the decriminalisation of homosexuality in Northern Ireland. His son, Ian Paisley Junior, also once said he was "repulsed by gay and lesbianism".
A DUP spokesman said: "Alison is an excellent candidate and will make an excellent representative for the people of Glengormley.
"The party selects candidates on the basis of merit and we believe in equality of opportunity."
Belfast Telegraph Digital