The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) was the only political party that failed to turn up to Belfast's gay pride festival at Stormont yesterday.

The Pride on the Hill event was the first of its kind and formed part of a week-long series of activities that will culminate on Saturday with the annual Belfast Pride Parade.

A statement released by the DUP said that they hadn't been given enough time to organise for a speaker to appear at the event.

It said: "Party headquarters only received a request for a participant in this debate on Thursday, 21st July. Given the busy schedule of our MLAs, such short notice did not enable us to supply a speaker on this occasion."

Some organisers of the event have said that a member of the DUP had contacted them to say that they found the festival "totally repugnant."

A DUP spokesperson declined to comment regarding this incident. Peter Robinson is the Member of Parliament for East Belfast.

John McCallister, Ulster Unionist Party Member for South Down, said: "It blows a hole in the new cuddly image Peter Robinson has been trying to put out there.

"He says he's wanting to reach out and he claims he wants to reach out to Catholic votes, but he's not wanting obviously to reach out to the gay community."

At the event, politicians addressed the questions and concerns of the gay community.

Niall Gillespie, Chair of Belfast Pride, told UTV: "Many young people and people of all ages struggle with their sexuality, struggle with leading an open and happy life.

"We want to ensure that people can live their lives, be proud of who they are, be comfortable with who they are, and contribute to society like they should be able to."

Dolores Kelly of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), who was amongst the panel of politicians taking questions, said that the gay community must not let themselves go unheard.

She said: "I think they need to push hard and hold to account their political representatives.

"Particularly the leader of the biggest party here in the north which is of course the DUP and I think they have to be challenged on all fronts."