Gay rights rallies to oppose conscience clause proposal

John O'Doherty encouraged opponents of the legislation to attend the rallies
John O'Doherty encouraged opponents of the legislation to attend the rallies

Gay rights activists are to lead protests against DUP proposals to introduce a ‘conscience clause’ in equality legislation.

On Saturday there will be demonstrations in Belfast, Newry and Londonderry led by The Rainbow Project and addressed by speakers from trade unions, faith organisations and political parties.

The Rainbow Project described Lagan Valley MLA Paul Givan’s proposed private member’s bill as a “licence to discriminate”.

Mr Givan unveiled his proposal in December in response to the court case the Equality Commission has taken against a Christian-owned bakery which refused to make a cake with the words ‘Support gay marriage’.

It is not yet clear whether Mr Givan’s bill, which has been opposed by Sinn Fein, the Alliance Party and the Green Party, will make it through the Assembly.

Prominent Belfast-born singer Brian Kennedy, who is himself gay, will address Saturday’s 3pm demonstration in the capital city, which organisers said they hoped would attract 500 people.

The Rainbow Project’s director, John O’Doherty, encouraged opponents of the legislation to attend the rallies and added: “Members of our community are angry that elected representatives are attempting to create a licence to discriminate for those who do not like LGB people, and so we will make our opposition to this legislation visible in Northern Ireland’s cities.”