Northern Irish Health Minister Jim Wells resigns after anti-gay remarks

PinkNews logo surrounded by illustrated images including a rainbow, unicorn, PN sign and pride flag.

Jim Wells has resigned as Northern Ireland’s Health Minister after last week claiming that children who are raised by same-sex parents are “more likely” to be abused.

Sources at the DUP have confirmed that Jim Wells has resigned.

Mr Wells – who was a minister for the governing Democratic Unionist Party, made the anti-gay comments during a hustings in South Downs.

He said: “The facts show that certainly you don’t bring a child up in a homosexual relationship… that a child is far more likely to be abused or neglected.”

DUP leader Peter Robinson declined to sack the minister, claiming that Mr Wells was just having a bad day because his wife was ill, despite a series of previous overtly homophobic remarks.

Nick Clegg hit out at the DUP, after the comments made by Mr Wells, saying it had “lifted the lid” on their “unpleasant” views.

Police at the weekend also confirmed that they were investigating an incident during an election canvas in Rathfriland, County Down, which involved Mr Wells and a lesbian couple.

It was being established whether an offence had been committed, reports the BBC. It is alleged that Mr Wells made comments about the womens’ “lifestyle” during the canvas.

In a statement released today, Mr Wells said he had resigned to care for his wife Grace, saying she needed to get “the attention she deserves”. He also hit out at

“As many people are aware I have been focused on helping my wife during her fight for life,” he wrote of his wife.

“Those who know my family and I, know the last three months have been the toughest of our lives as we watched my wife, Grace, suffer two successive strokes and battle through major heart surgery.

“However, as she now faces further challenges I have come to the point where I am no longer able to continue my ministerial duties and give Grace the attention she deserves,” he continued.

Going on, he said he received “abusive” and “menacing” messages on social media from people with “a different viewpoint”.

“I am deeply saddened that some of those who represent a different viewpoint from me have attacked my family and me in a deeply personal, nasty and in some cases threatening way. Some of the outbursts on social media have been particularly abusive and menacing in nature,” he wrote.

DUP leader Peter Robinson said he respected Mr Wells’ decision to step down, and said: “I would have wanted it to be otherwise but I respect Jim’s decision. However, he is right to put his family first and I will fully support his decision.”

Last week’s claims about gay parenting were the latest in a string of actively homophobic comments from the former Minister, who has previously claimed that he finds Pride “repugnant” and refused to take part in gay rights debates.

After PinkNews reported on his poor gay rights following his appointment, Mr Wells blocked PinkNews and a number of PinkNews reporters on Twitter.