Northern Ireland Assembly won’t punish ex-minister who compared homosexuality to child abuse

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

The Northern Ireland Assembly has dismissed a complaint against the country’s former Health Minister – after he claimed gay parents are more likely to abuse children.

DUP politician Jim Wells quit as Northern Ireland’s health minister earlier this year, after he made controversial 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.”

Despite standing down as a minister, Mr Wells continues as a Member of the Legislative Assembly – and has shrugged off calls to quit.

This week, the Committee on Standards and Privileges ruled out taking up action against Mr Wells, after a complaint was filed by LGBT activist Gary Spedding.

A response to Mr Spedding from the Standards Commissioner Douglas Bain said: “I have decided that the above complaint is not admissible. The material provided… appeared to me to show that at the relevant time Mr Wells was acting not in his ‘capacity as an elected Member of the Assembly’, but as a candidate at the Parliamentary Election.”

The Committee clerk added: “I write to confirm that at its meeting on 20 May, the Committee on Standards and Privileges considered correspondence from the Northern Ireland Assembly Commissioner for Standards on a complaint made by you against Mr Jim Wells MLA.

“The Committee agreed with the Commissioner’s decision.”

Mr Spedding said: “It is disappointing but understandable as the distinction between him being on campaign trail as a candidate and health minister has been clarified.”

Mr Wells’ 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.