reconciling LGBT rights and international aid: the DUP way forward

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On 6 April the Coalition of Aid and Development Agencies held an election hustings in Black Box in Belfast. There were speakers there from all of the main parties who all gave their introductions.

The DUP’s speaker was Jim Wells who said that when it came to his party’s policy on international aid and development he was it, that whatever he said went. Most of the speakers mentioned the fact that the Assembly was looking at doing a project in Uganda, along the lines that the Scottish Parliament has done with Malawi in the past, because even though at present there is no remit for aid in the Assembly’s powers there is a desire to do so.

However, the DUP’s spokesman and it would appear policy maker on international aid and development came unstuck at the first question. The Rainbow Project’s Education Equality Officer Gavin Boyd asked a question that as many of the candidates mentioned Uganda how they felt the Assembly could reconcile giving aid or development funding to Uganda or the 50 African states where being gay is illegal.

A couple of the party representatives did come up with a response, however when it came to Mr Wells his response which is in full was,

I have no position on that question.

So the man who only a few minutes earlier said that he was the guy in his party to form and lead policy on any issue there was about international aid had no position on giving to countries that had a poor record on LGBT rights.

Of course this is hardly that surprising as the DUP don’t really have positive positions on homophobia in Northern Ireland or for that matter within their own party.

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