Politician says gay marriage opponents ‘on wrong side of history’, continues to oppose it

A Northern Irish politician who told his party that same-sex marriage opponents are “on the wrong side of history”, still opposes it.

Mike Nesbitt, the leader of the Ulster Unionist Party, made the historic comments at his party’s annual conference.

However speaking to the BBC’s Nolan show on Monday, he said his view has not changed and he still opposes the right of same-sex couples to marry.

Speaking on Monday, he said he had been “warning” his party that equal marriage would be introduced in Northern Ireland eventually.

He said marriage should be “between a man and a woman” only, saying the issue had given him “sleepless nights”.

“I am against same sex marriage, but I am challenging myself always on these issues,” Mr Nesbitt told the programme.

Going on, however, he did say that mental health issues within the LGBT community do make him feel challenged on his attitude to same-sex marriage.

Mr Nesbitt has campaigned on mental health issues in the past.

Northern Ireland is currently the only major part of the UK which does not have same-sex marriage, as England and Wales and Scotland legalised it in 2013.

Mr Nesbitt reiterated that UUP politicians are still not allowed a free vote on the issue, and that he thought same-sex marriage would be introduced “through the courts”.

“I was just warning our conference that I think that the argument will be lost.

“For those who cannot bring themselves to support same-sex marriage, I think we will be on the wrong side of history and I’m just laying it down as a warning – prepare yourselves,” Mr Nesbitt said.

Going on, he said his own children could not understand why he opposed same-sex marriage.

During his speech at the UUP conference on Saturday, Mr Nesbitt said: “Some of us support same-sex marriages, some of us don’t and I think it’s part of the beauty of the Ulster Unionist Party that we respect each others’ positions.

“I’m not going to labour the point today, but to those of us who cannot bring ourselves to support a change in the law, I say this – be aware, we are on the wrong side of history.

“There is a new generation and they simply do not understand why there is a problem.”