TUV leader Jim Allister has slammed the UUP’s “perversion” of the Union Flag during the weekend Pride parade in Belfast.
However UUP leader Robin Swann later hit back at Mr Allister’s “homophobic prejudices”.
Mr Allister had said that one of the most “disturbing” images of the parade was the UUP’s “shameful perversion” of the Union flag.
“By overlaying, or infecting, the Union flag with LGBT’s rainbow colours, great disrespect was shown to our national flag in an attempt to misuse it in support of LGBT demands,” he said.
He added: “This ill-judged display by UUP elected representatives has rightly caused unease among some UUP members and supporters. I believe it is important that Robin Swann clarifies where he stands on such emasculation of our flag.”
Mr Swann responded that individual UUP members took part and he has “absolutely no issue with that”.
“Variations of the Union Flag are used for a variety of purposes - by football fans, the Armed Forces and even the police,” he said, adding that free speech is a core principle of unionism.
He added: “Using words such as ‘infecting the Union Flag’ demonstrates Mr Allister’s own homophobic prejudices.”
At a time when NI’s place within the UK is threatened by the backstop and a border poll, he said he urged Mr Allister to end his “unhealthy obsession” with the LGBT community and “concentrate on strengthening the union”.
Christian protestors against the Belfast Pride parade suffered “agitation”, a cleric has said. Retired Free Presbyterian minister Rev David McIlveen led an open air gospel service at the corner of North Street and Waring Street before the parade, which included about 50 people. However, some of them went on to take part in a further protest outside city hall during the parade, where there was “quite a bit of agitation” and the “usual banter and laughing, sneering and scorning” he said. The spirit of the parade had not changed since it carried a ‘Jesus was a fag’ placard in 2007, he said. “We are heading to a crisis in our mental state of affairs,” he added. “There is major pressure on the psychology of those who advocate homosexuality.”
Meanwhile, a woman who describes herself as asexual has complained that her sexual orientation was not represented in Belfast Pride and so she could not take part.
Alisa Rose, who is originally from Dublin but who has lived in Belfast for the past ten years, attended the parade but said she could not see any symbols representing her orientation.
“Asexuality is an orientation for people who people who feel no sexual desire,” she said. “I was married once and had children but that was more just for the sake of it.
“I have also tried dating women. I just wanted to speak out to let anyone in the same position know that they are not alone.”