CONCERNS are growing about Prime Minister Theresa May relying on a right-wing, ultra-religious party from Northern Ireland to prop up her wounded Government.

In a pointed intervention, Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson revealed she had pressed May on challenging the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) on its anti-gay rights record.

The DUP is the largest party in the suspended Northern Ireland Assembly – power-sharing collapsed after Sinn Fein moved a motion of no confidence in the DUP administration in January – but is now set to have an unprecedented role in Westminster politics.

Founded by the late Iain Paisley, the DUP is pro-Union and popular with working-class Protestants.

However, while the party is renowned for its pragmatism in striking cross-party deals, its strong anti-liberal streak may alarm moderate voters in the UK.

The DUP is opposed to gay marriage and has ensured Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK that has not legalised same sex unions.

Paisley’s son, Ian, who is one of the DUP’s ten-strong contingent at Westminster, famously said he was “repulsed” by gay people and described homosexuality as “immoral, offensive and obnoxious.” The DUP health minister in 2015 said, "The facts show that certainly you don't bring a child up in a homosexual relationship ... that child is far more likely to be abused or neglected ... in a non-stable marriage."

Peter Robinson, who used to lead the DUP and was Northern Ireland’s First Minister, once hit out at the Equality Commission’s decision to to fund a legal action against a bakery that refused to put a pro-same sex marriage slogan on a cake.

His successor, Arlene Foster, has also defended her party’s hostile position on gay rights and claimed that “online abuse” of the DUP stance had hardened her position: "If activists want to have a conversation about where they are coming from, do they seriously think they are going to influence me by sending me abuse?

"No, they are not going to influence me by sending me abuse – in fact, they are going to send me in the opposite direction and people need to reflect on that."

Foster was at the centre of the scandal, presiding as First Minister over the so-called "cash for ash" scheme (or "the more you burn the more you earn") which brought down the Stormont power-sharing executive in January. Under the scheme, officially titled the Renewable Heat Incentive, users who spent £1 on green heating systems were given £1.60 in subsidies, with no cap on how much they could earn. It is estimated that the scheme will cost the taxpayer £400 million by 2036 when it expires.

On the environment, while climate change denial is not official DUP policy, senior party figures are well known for their scepticism.

Sammy Wilson, the newly elected MP for East Antrim, previously served as Northern Ireland’s Environment Minister and claimed that people would eventually “look back at this whole climate change debate and ask ourselves how on earth were we ever conned into spending the billions of pounds”.

The DUP is also pro-life on abortion, which is banned in Northern Ireland, apart from on medical grounds. Edwin Poots, the DUP health minister in 2010, caused controversy by banning blood donations from gay people, saying, "I think that people who engage in high-risk sexual behaviour in general should be excluded from giving blood."

In September 2013 he fought the ruling that would bring laws around LGBT adoption in Northern Ireland into line with mainland UK.

Davidson, whose success at the General Election for the Scottish Tories is believed to have saved May’s job, told the BBC: “I was fairly straightforward with her [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.”