Northern Ireland: Health minister who claimed gay couples shouldn’t adopt children sacked in reshuffle

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Northern Irish health minister Edwin Poots, who was branded a “disgrace” after he refused to lift the country’s blanket ban on gay men donating blood, has been sacked in a reshuffle.

In 2011, England, Wales and Scotland introduced a one-year deferral for gay and bisexual men who wish to donate blood, however Mr Poots, a member of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) known his anti-gay views, decided to retain the lifetime ban in Northern Ireland, despite widespread criticism from health experts, fellow politicians, and LGBT campaigners.

Mr Poots – who is a ‘young earth creationist’ and believes the earth is 6000 years old – said: “I think that people who engage in high-risk sexual behaviour in general should be excluded from giving blood”.

He has also claimed he believes the “natural order” for having a child is strictly between a man and a woman, and that gay couples should not be permitted to adopt.

He was sacked today in a reshuffle by First Minister Peter Robinson, and replaced by Jim Wells, the former vice-chairman of the Health Committee.

Northern Ireland’s Alliance Party said of Poots in April: “It is disgraceful that Edwin Poots is continuing to waste taxpayers’ money on a personal crusade.

“The Minister still has the power to bring Northern Ireland into line with the rest of the UK. His continued refusal to do so highlights his prejudice and petty narrow mindedness.”