Former Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt has said it is right that those who turned up for a controversial LGBT event at Stormont “have their moment in the sun”.
The Alternative Queer Ulster event has attracted criticism after video footage emerged of a drag queen using profane language in Stormont’s Great Hall.
The DUP, meanwhile, has declined to comment on calls from one of its longest-serving politicians, South Down MLA Jim Wells, for disciplinary action to be taken against a party colleague who co-sponsored the event.
North Belfast DUP MLA Paula Bradley had given the event her backing.
Mr Wells branded the event “vulgar and disgraceful” and called for action to be taken against Ms Bradley by the party.
On Wednesday, a DUP spokesperson declined to comment when asked about Mr Wells’ remarks, and pointed instead to an earlier statement which said Paula Bradley had “learned a salient lesson”.
UUP MLA Mr Nesbitt was amongst those who attended the Alternative Queer Ulster event, although he wasn’t present for its entirety due to a prior engagement.
“If there was bad language, I wouldn’t support that but if you live in a democracy you’re going to hear things you don’t like,” he said.
“There are a lot of people that don’t like what Jim Wells stands for, or the language he uses, but that’s part of living in a democracy.”
He continued: “Stormont should be open to all groups.
“The sort of people who were in Stormont (for the event) were the sort of people who feel that they have been deliberately and cruelly excluded for decades, never mind for years.
“And it’s right that they have their moment in the sun.”