The leader of Northern Ireland’s Alliance Party, David Ford, has spoken of his support for same-sex marriage, warning that it is dangerous for a majority to tell a minority what is and isn’t discrimination.

Speaking on BBC Radio Ulster’s Sunday Sequence programme about same-sex marriage, he said: “I think it’s not for majorities to tell minorities that feel discriminated against that they’re not being discriminated against.

“I think you only have to look back at the history of this region in the 1950s and 60s to see the dangers of majorities telling minorities that discrimination isn’t real.”

Yesterday it emerged that former Conservative Party chairman, Lord Tebbit, told a PinkNews reader that the ban on same-sex marriage is not discriminatory, but the current system of not allowing heterosexual couples to enter into a civil partnership is.

Ford’s support for same-sex marriage is in line with his party’s politics, but in April he stepped down as elder at Second Donegor Presbyterian Church over the issue. His position will now be investigated by the church.

He said on Sunday Sequence that he was aware that some members of the congregation had expressed concern over his equal marriage support: “I know there were a small number who had a conversation with the minister and I’ve had conversations both, in the presbytery and in the session, before I voluntarily stepped aside, just to be very clear, currently from the active duties of the office, not from the office.

“I think that is very much an issue which is in the hands of the session of Second Donegore as to whether or when they might wish me to resume those duties.”

In an appearance on Sunday Sequence last week, Lord Alderdice said Ford’s treatment by the church had been overly harsh.

Last week, the Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) again blocked progress on same-sex marriage legislation in the country, having effectively vetoed a motion to legalise it through a ‘petition of concern’. The motion failed with 53-42 votes against.

The proposed motion was being pushed by Sinn Fein following an overwhelming vote in favour of a referendum on legalising same-sex marriage in the Republic of Ireland.