Words: Steve Brown
A DUP councillor who supported the LGBTQ community has been deselected for the local government elections in May.
Tom Smith helped pushed through a motion in December which will see Ards Town Hall illuminated in rainbow colours to mark the start of LGBT Awareness Week but following the move, he blasted the DUP after he was not selected to run for elections again, Belfast Telegraph reported.
He said: “As some of you may already be aware, I have not been selected as a DUP candidate for the upcoming council elections.
“While I find this personally disappointing, I cannot say I am surprised, not least when a month ago another candidate suddenly appeared from nowhere, someone who as far as I know had never been a member of the party.
“Once that happened, I knew there were moves to have me deselected.”
Although the motion was passed to light up the town hall to celebrate the LGBTQ community, Smith said he had disagreed twice with his party on the issue but was adamant he wanted to support the community.
“I make no apologies for this at all and certainly have no regrets. At my recent selection meeting with the party they asked me if I would obey the council group decisions,” he continued.
“I was honest with them and said that I could not if I thought that decision was wrong, or it went against my conscience. Obviously, this is not what they wanted to hear.
"Of course, I am sure there will be those who will be more than happy to sit there and put their hand up on command and do very little else. That isn't me.
"I have always believed, and continue to believe: people first, party second. That will not change.
"During my remaining time as a councillor I will do my best to continue to serve you and in everything, try and build a borough for everyone."
The DUP has a history of anti-gay and anti-abortion laws and although homosexuality is legal in Northern Ireland, same-sex marriage is yet to be legalised despite pressure from LGBT+ activists.