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Wells quits National Trust over Pride parade

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Wells quits National Trust over Pride parade thumbnailSOUTH Down MLA Jim Wells

SOUTH Down MLA Jim Wells has cut his ties with The National Trust because of its participation at Saturday's Gay Pride parade in Belfast.

Mr Wells announced on Twitter that evening, that his 19-year membership with The National Trust was over and he would now "support other charities".

The DUP representative explained that there were three reasons why he and his family resigned their membership: an article recently publicised in The National Trust magazine that focused on LGBTQ issues; recent controversy around volunteers at Fellbrigg Hall in Norfolk being made to wear sexual equality badges; and representation of The National Trust at Saturday's Belfast Pride parade.

In a statement Mr Wells explained that he had worked in the regional office of The National Trust for 10 years prior to his election to Stormont in 1998.

"I then joined the National Trust and remained a member for 19 years," added Mr Wells. "I was also a donor to the charity and was seriously considering leaving it a legacy.

"The National Trust is an organisation which does excellent work conserving historic houses, our scenic coastline and beautiful gardens.

"It would be very wise to keep out of controversial social issues which have little of anything to do with its main objectives."

Responding to Mr Wells' decision to end his membership, a Trust spokesperson stated that they attended Belfast's Gay Pride parade to demonstrate their "commitment to promoting equality, diversity and inclusion".

"The National Trust is an organisation that is for ever, for everyone," said the spokesperson.

"We are committed to developing and promoting equality of opportunity and inclusion in all that we do regardless of age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, paternity and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation.

"LGBTQ heritage plays an important role in the history of The National Trust and the places in our care.

"Many Trust places were home to, and shaped by, people who challenged conventional notions of gender and sexuality.

"This year, 50 years after the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality, the Trust is celebrating their contribution.

"The National Trust was established 'for the benefit of the Nation' and we passionately believe our purpose is to make everyone feel welcome at our places, as our founders would have wanted."

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