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Scottish Tory Leader: ‘LGBTI Rights More Important than Conservative Party’

The Scottish Conservatives Hold Their Spring Conference
Mark Runnacles/Getty Images
LIAM DEACON

The leader of the Scottish Conservatives has said her commitment to “LGBTI rights” is more important to her than the Conservative party.

Ruth Davidson says she has spoken to Theresa May about her concerns over a deal with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) following Thursday’s general election, and won assurances that gay marriage in Britain will not be compromised.

The DUP, who are based in Northern Ireland, take a conservative view of gay marriage and abortion.

In an apparent criticism of the plan to work with the DUP, Ms. Davidson on Friday tweeted a link to a speech she made in favour of gay marriage, with the message: “As a Protestant Unionist about to marry an Irish Catholic, here’s the Amnesty Pride lecture I gave in Belfast.”

Ms. Davidson, who became engaged to partner Jen Wilson in May 2016, later told BBC Scotland: “I was fairly straightforward with her [Mrs May] and I told her that there were a number of things that count to me more than the party.

“One of them is country, one of the others is LGBTI rights.

“I asked for a categoric assurance that if any deal or scoping deal was done with the DUP there would be absolutely no rescission of LGBTI rights in the rest of the UK, in Great Britain, and that we would use any influence that we had to advance LGBTI rights in Northern Ireland.

“It’s an issue very close to my heart and one that I wanted categoric assurances from the prime minister on, and I received [them].”

This morning, Ed Vaizey, the former Conservative culture minister, also insisted the Conservative party would remain socially liberal and not bend to the social conservatism of the DUP.

Mr. Vaizey told BBC Breakfast: “I’m not going to support any legislation that I would regard as socially illiberal or taking this country backwards.

“I don’t think we are going to go backwards in terms of social legislation, I think it’s part of our DNA now, it’s part of what makes us the great country that we are, and I’m sure the DUP understand that.”

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