DUP councillor supports gay marriage and abortion law reform

John Scott with Arlene Foster, pictured in Co Fermanagh during the Westminster election campaign when unionist parties backed the UUP's Tom Elliott
Brendan Hughes

A NEW DUP councillor has voiced his support for same-sex marriage and reforming Northern Ireland's abortion laws.

John Scott, who sits on Antrim and Newtownabbey council, said the law on abortion "should be relaxed".

And on gay marriage, he said: "I agree with it - if people are in love what's wrong with getting married?"

It's thought to be the first time a DUP representative has spoken so publicly in support of same-sex marriage, which the party remains staunchly opposed to.

The DUP has also remained opposed to changing the north's abortion laws.

On Saturday at the DUP annual conference, it was announced that both Mr Scott and former Alliance councillor Vasundhara Kamble had joined the party.

Mr Scott quit the UUP in September, claiming the party had failed to address concerns over a colleague "not pulling his weight".

In April 2016, Mr Scott said there needed to be "more discussion around the issue of abortion". 

He told the Newtownabbey Times: "At the end of the day we are part of the United Kingdom. I'm not saying that we should go as far as it is in England, but the law should be relaxed.

"People with money from Northern Ireland can go across the water and have an abortion. People without money can't afford to do that."

In Northern Ireland, abortion is only permitted if the mother's life is at risk or there is a permanent or serious risk to her mental or physical health.

Asked whether his views had changed, Mr Scott last night told The Irish News: "My views have not changed on same-sex marriage or the support for relaxing the abortion laws."

On same-sex marriage, he added: "I agree with it - if people are in love what's wrong with getting married?"

A former Antrim and Newtownabbey mayor, Mr Scott has previously been outspoken on other issues.

In July he criticised unionist parties for their silence over whether they supported a court injunction to restrict four east Belfast bonfires.

And last year he signed an online petition calling for Arlene Foster to resign as first minister over the RHI controversy.

However, Mr Scott said he has changed his opinion and "would love to see unionist unity and Arlene as the leader".

Castlereagh councillor Vasundhara Kamble quit Alliance in January alleging racism and ageism – claims denieed by Alliance.

Ms Kamble was in 2014 a member Alliance's group on LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) issues.

She also gave her support to the SDLP's Pat Catney in the last assembly election.

Yesterday Ms Kamble said she agreed to back Mr Catney because he's a "personal friend".

She said she joined Alliance's LGBT group because she was asked by a friend, adding that she only attended "a few meetings".

Ms Kamble said she would back the DUP's opposition to same-sex marriage, saying: "If the policy is there then I will have to support the policy."

She said same-sex marriage was previously a "conscience" issue in Alliance where members could have their own view, but she declined to give her personal opinion.

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