The problem comes from the DUP representative at this year's event. Yeah Jim Wells is the one who will happily attend a discussion on a wide range of issues on the Falls Road, but wouldn't attend a similar event in the Long Gallery just down the corridor and down some stairs from his Stormont office. Now I'm pretty sure that the behaviour of both audiences will be similar. Respectful of all the speakers, asking questions and listening to the answers. The clothing of those at both these debates will be normal summer street clothing I'd hazard as the weather today is as good as last Monday.
Yet Jim Wells is quite prepared to cross into one section of Northern Ireland society for a discussion of issues that a few years ago he wouldn't have been seen in, yet he wasn't even prepared to head to a different part of the building he works in to talk to another. What is worse he turns down the invite to the other with a message that had veiled meanings that he has refused to comment on or clarify. The different treatment of two different sections of the community that are protected under the two different parts of Section 75 of the Belfast Agreement is something that should be shown up and shouted about for what it is.
A politician who were to show such overt prejudice in another part of the United Kingdom would be condemned by his party leadership and would not be considered suitable to hold front bench office. The fact that Mr Wells is earmarked for an office that will have the health and social well being of the LGBT community within his remit is something that is abhorrent to a large number of the LGBT people I have spoken to since Jim's comments were made public. However, he is in the DUP and the position is one that the DUP have chosen under d'Hondt so sadly there is little chance of castigation from on high in his party. Ranks have already been closed, no comments are being made except to lie about the amount of notice given of Pride on the Hill.
Now is the time to engage Jim. If you don't I expect you are going to be picketed wherever you go. Something that he is well aware of happening when people are angry about not being consulted or appearing to have their views taken on board, and if "passions run high" who can tell what takes place. Not that I'm expecting the physical presence of this young DUP protester this evening but a peaceful protest and picket.