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  1. ITV Report

Foster defends DUP stance on gay marriage

First Minister and DUP leader Arlene Foster has been defending her party’s position after stating it will continue to block same-sex marriage using the contentious petition of concern.

Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK where gay couples cannot get married.

However, despite a recent poll suggesting that around 70% of the population back equal marriage, the Mrs Foster has insisted the DUP is not out of step with public opinion.

She said that her stance regarding a veto of any potential change to legislation had actually been strengthened in the wake of online abuse she had received online over the issue.

“I’ve listened with some amusement to people saying that we’re out of step, when we had a mandate delivered just as recently as May,” the DUP leader said.

People need to reflect on the fact that we do speak by far for the majority of unionists here in Northern Ireland.

And I would say we speak for quite a few nationalists and Catholics as well, who want to protect marriage and don’t want to see it redefined.

– First Minister Arlene Foster

Mrs Foster claims to have gay and lesbian friends who support her stance.

But Audrey Gillespie and Susie Donaghy spoke to UTV’s Paul Reilly about their desire to be able to get married just like any other couple.

They said it was embarrassing to have to tell people from other countries that their government will not allow them to get married.

Meanwhile, the Rainbow Project has said that it does not want to see anyone resorting to abuse amid the debate around same-sex marriage.

“That’s not what we want to see for this campaign,” Gavin Boyd, from the organisation, said.

“For us, this campaign is about the positivity, the hope and the aspirations of people in Northern Ireland who want to see a society where everyone is respected regardless of their sexual orientation or gender.”