'Complete and utter nonsense': DUP leader Arlene Foster denies claims her party is homophobic

DUP leader Arlene Foster has hit back at claims her party's policy on gay rights are homophobic, telling ITV News the accusation "complete and utter nonsense".

Mrs Foster is close to striking a deal with Theresa May after the Tories failed to win an overall majority in last week's General Election.

The DUP's policies on social issues such as gay marriage and abortion have come under increased scrutiny since the election result, with the party's 10 MPs offering the prime minister a chance to prop up her minority government.

But Mrs Foster told ITV News Political Correspondent Carl Dinnen much of what has been said is "hyperbole" - and that those issues played no part in her striking a deal with Theresa May.

She said: "There's been a lot of hyperbole talked about our position to the gay community.

"Much of it is complete and utter nonsense, I have to say.

"We take a particular view in relation to the definition of marriage; that does not mean in any one way that we are homophobic.

"But we've been branded in a particular way, which as I say is complete nonsense."

Mrs Foster said gay rights were social issues for the Northern Irish parliament to deal with.

She added she hoped people on mainland Britain would "find out a bit more about Northern Ireland and understand it a little better" once a deal with the DUP is struck.