Ford – New Health Minister must bring new attitude towards equality issues

Alliance Leader David Ford has said that the new Health Minister must bring a change in views towards issues such as the ban on gay men donating blood but there are major doubts over whether this will be the case. His comments were made after Jim Wells resigned following two controversial remarks he made in recent days.

David Ford MLA said: “Everybody can sympathise with Jim Wells’ personal issues as he concentrates on supporting his wife following her illness. I would like to send my best wishes to the both of them as she continues her recovery.

“Regarding Jim Wells’ recent comments, the issue is not just about his views but that of Peter Robinson, who knew Jim Wells’ positions on issues such as the ban on gay men donating blood before he appointed him as Health Minister. Peter Robinson ought to show leadership and not just replace Jim Wells with somebody who holds the same values. The big question is whether he will be prepared to do so.

“There should be a fundamental change of policy from the DUP if we are to make progress on equality issues.

“I fear that this will probably not be the case, as the recent comments by Jim Wells were not isolated incidents, but part of a wider pattern of behaviour by the DUP towards the LGBT community.

“We only have to look at previous remarks by senior DUP representatives who have blamed gay people for Hurricane Katrina and described homosexuality as viler than child abuse.

“The DUP need to look at their position and decide whether they can continue with the same attitude. It is clear from the reaction to Jim Wells’ comments that the public will not accept a new Minister with the same values.”


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