The DUP has caused damage and pain to LGBT people such as me

A letter from Michael Palmer:

Tuesday, 6th July 2021, 5:00 am
Letter to the editor

As an LGBT unionist, I welcome and appreciate the sentiment from the DUP deputy leader Paula Bradley who apologised for the hurtful comments made throughout the years by certain DUP elected representatives about LGBT people.

I also note the DUP Leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson supported the apology. However, these are only words.

They must also be supported by action.

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That action includes changes in DUP policy, attitudes towards and engagement with the LGBT community.

When I was growing up as a teenager, I was alienated from unionism due to several comments made by DUP elected representatives about the LGBT community.

When I made the realisation that they were actually talking about people like me, this caused me to feel alienated from my own community because I assumed those comments were reflective of unionism because the DUP were the largest unionist party.

I thankfully later realised they were not reflective of unionism but the massive damage and tremendous pain they caused me was done.

It took me years to reconcile my sexual orientation with my unionism, and I am so glad I did, as there are very many great people within unionism who are very supportive of me and LGBT unionists.

I appeal to the DUP leadership to do the right thing: modernise and moderate the DUP on LGBT issues.

Take robust action against those who make hurtful comments about the LGBT community.

Unionism had a majority in the assembly when I was a teenager; it no longer does now.

Unionism can no longer afford to alienate the LGBT community if it wishes for Northern Ireland’s place within the union to be maintained.

Michael Palmer, Newtownards, LGBT Unionist

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