Ford –Wells remarks not isolated view within DUP

Alliance Leader David Ford has said remarks made by Health Minister Jim Wells at a South Down hustings on Thursday expose a deep vein of homophobia and disrespect for the LGBT community which runs throughout the DUP.

Mr Ford added any resignation by Mr Wells following his linking of gay relationships and abuse and neglect of children, whilst an important marker of normal politics, would be rendered meaningless without a sea change of attitude by members of the party.

David Ford MLA said: “Any right-thinking person would be disgusted by these vile, inaccurate and hurtful comments. But sadly, it was not an isolated incident within the DUP. There have been numerous occasions where elected representatives have attempted to deny gay rights and advocated discrimination against those in the LGBT community, whether trying to blame them for Hurricane Katrina or stating homosexuality is viler than child abuse.

“Therefore Mr Wells’ comments are not detached but clearly part of a wider pattern of behaviour. One only has to look at his predecessor as Health Minister, who fought a crusade against gay men donating blood, not based on evidence but personal prejudice, as well as the party’s proposal for a conscience clause to remove equality for LGBT people.

“If this had been a Minister from a party in any other part of the UK, even from the so-called more extreme wings, they would have already resigned. Yet Peter Robinson has defended Mr Wells. That raises serious questions.

“However, one minister’s resignation will mean nothing if he is replaced by someone with the same values. The DUP need to take a long look at their policies and attitudes, and question them deeply.

“I would also encourage the UUP to ask themselves if they can continue to ask their supporters to vote for the DUP as part of their pact, and ask Mike Nesbitt if he will still vote for that same party.”


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