Northern Ireland’s DUP would rather block gay marriage than form a government
Northern Ireland’s DUP has apparently laid down a ban on same-sex marriage as a ‘red line’ in the country’s ongoing power-sharing talks.
Northern Ireland is currently the only part of the UK without same-sex marriage because the ultra-conservative Democratic Unionist Party has employed peace process powers known as ‘petitions of concern’ to block all progress.
Following a devolved assembly election earlier this year, the DUP is required to form a new power-sharing government with second-largest party, Sinn Féin – but talks have repeatedly stalled.
He said: “Peter will not marry Paul in Northern Ireland.”
As there is already a majority for equality in the Northern Ireland Assembly, the DUP would not need to vote for same-sex marriage for it to pass. They would only need to allow a government to be formed, and not employ a veto against it.
But Mr Wells said even that minor compromise would split the party.
He said: “Don’t even think that. That’s an absolute no.
“Some of us would walk before that would happen. We feel very, very strongly about that.”
Of proposals for a civic forum that could lead to same-sex marriage, Mr Wells said: “We will strangle that idea at birth if that’s what it’s going to bring. Nobody wants it except Gerry Adams anyway.”
His remarks were condemned by Sinn Féin.
Sinn Féin MLA Megan Fearon said:”Comments from Jim Wells that the DUP could split if there is equal marriage in the north highlights the attitude of that party to equality.His remarks show just how out of touch he and his party are
“His remarks show just how out of touch he and his party are with the views of the general public.
“And it shows once again that the DUP is placing its party self interest above the need for equality for all.”
Gerry Adams previously named equal marriage a “key issue” in the talks to form a new power-sharing government.
Mr Adams said: “The DUP’s approach thus far has been to engage in a minimalist way on all of the key issues, including legacy issues – an Irish-language act, a bill of rights and marriage equality.”
DUP leader Arlene Foster has also reaffirmed plans to continue employing powers to block any future marriage legislation. She recently insisted gay people don’t really want to get married anyway.
She said: “This suggestion that every single person who’s a homosexual wants to change the definition of marriage is actually wrong.
“I know plenty of people in that community who don’t want to see marriage redefined and are quite content to live in partnership… it’s all become a bit of a storm in a teacup.”
Last year Mr Wells said he would launch legal action against journalists who reported allegations he is homophobic.
The former Health Minister has branded Pride parades ‘repugnant’, refused to take part in LGBT rights debates, and as a minister ignored scientific advice to keep a blanket ‘gay blood’ ban in place.
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He resigned in 2015 after outrage over alleged anti-gay comments during a hustings in South Downs.
A tape of the hustings appeared to reveal that Mr Wells said: “All evidence throughout the world says the best way to raise children is in a loving, stable, married relationship; the facts show that, the facts show that certainly you don’t bring a child up in a homosexual relationship.
“I say again, I say again, a child is far more likely to be abused or neglected in a non-stable marriage situation, gay or straight.”
Mr Wells, who insisted his remarks were “doctored”, claimed that he had been “vindicated” after a woman who pursued a police complaint against him admitted wasting police time.
In response, Mr Wells threatened to launch legal action against the news outlets that have reported his anti-LGBT comments.