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Thursday 21 November 2019

Police investigate minister's gay abuse remarks

A 2009 photo DUP politician Jim Wells. Photo: Julien Behal/PA Wire
A 2009 photo DUP politician Jim Wells. Photo: Julien Behal/PA Wire News Desk

Police are investigating comments by Northern Ireland's health minister that linked gay marriage to child abuse.

Jim Wells, a senior member of the socially conservative Democratic Unionist Party, initially said he was misrepresented, but later apologised for the remark and said it did not reflect the views of his party.

"You don't bring a child up in a homosexual relationship. That child is far more likely to be abused and neglected," Wells told a campaign event for Britain's May 7 election on Thursday night.

Members of the audience responded with angry shouts, according to video footage posted online.

Wells later clarified that he meant that abuse was more likely in any "non-stable marriage"/

On Friday, he released a statement saying he regretted that he had "wrongly made that remark about abuse."

A PSNI spokesman said that police had received a complaint and that officers were making inquiries.

Local newspaper the Down Recorder reported that police visited the venue on Friday morning.

Senior members of the DUP, one of the most socially conservative parties running in the British elections, have campaigned against gay marriage and have supported the right of a Belfast bakery to refuse to make a cake with a gay rights slogan.

The DUP holds eight of Northern Ireland's 18 seats in the House of Commons and is hoping to take at least nine in the election.

It has said that if no party wins outright, it will try to secure concessions for Northern Ireland from the largest party in exchange for its support.

But DUP leader Peter Robinson has said the party would not make demands on "moral issues".


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