Pride organisers ask for removal of anti-DUP sign

Thousands lined the streets of the city centre for Belfast Pride
Thousands lined the streets of the city centre for Belfast Pride

A woman taking part in Belfast Pride was asked to remove an anti-DUP sign by organisers as they felt it did not “promote reasoned debate”.

Belfast Pride organisers said Eleanor Evans’ sign which read ‘F**k the DUP’ breached the Parades Commission’s guidelines on “using words or behaviour considered sectarian, abusive, insulting or lewd”.

Miss Evans spoke to Pink News – a LGBT media outlet – claiming she was told she could either throw away her sign or she would not be allowed to continue as part of the Pride parade.

Meanwhile, DUP MP Jim Wells has reported Miss Evans to the PSNI, saying: “I told the police that I regarded the placard as a hate crime and grossly offensive. It was also in my view totally against the legislation controlling parades in Northern Ireland.”

Mis Evans, 24, who is from Southend but lives in Belfast is reported to have told Pink News: “I walked past plenty of police who were at the parade and no problems from them. About half way around one of the Pride officials comes running towards me with such a strange sense of urgency as if I was holding a gun or something.”

She claimed she was “shoved” by a male official who “ripped” the sign out of her hands.

Miss Evans said: “Pride started as a protest and if you can’t carry a sign like that peacefully through Pride then I don’t understand what they think that event is for.”

Belfast Pride chair Sean O’Neill said there is no basis to the alleged assault and his organisation would “robustly defend Belfast Pride against any such allegation”.

He said the incident involved two members of staff explaining to Miss Evans about the breach of Parades Commission guidelines.

Mr O’Neill added: “We don’t think that the profanity and its use in an attack promoted the reasoned debate that we want to have with the DUP and we won’t let it be an excuse for a refusal to engage.

“The Belfast Pride parade is both a celebration and a protest – a protest about the rights that LGBT citizens here don’t yet have and a positive celebration of the lives of LGBT citizens in Belfast.”

He said Pride would continue to invite all Belfast’s elected representatives to events in order to have “an open, positive debate on equality”.