DUP politician refuses to watch Strictly Come Dancing in case he sees a same-sex couple

The DUP’s former health minister Jim Wells has slammed the BBC’s latest move to open Strictly Come Dancing to same-sex couples, calling it a “reprobate” step.

BBC bosses recently said they would be “completely open” to changing the show’s format to allow same-sex dance pairings in future.

But this didn’t sit well with the Northern Irish politician, who in 2015 was forced to resign from his post as health minister for claiming children of same-sex parents were “more likely” to be abused.

Wells told The Belfast Telegraph that he will no longer be watching the reality dance show, which was “wonderful family viewing”.

Janette Manrara and Aljaž Skorjanec on stage at the “Strictly Come Dancing” launch show at Television Centre on August 26, 2019. (Lia Toby/Getty)

He said: “Now we’ve decided to introduce same-sex partners as demanded by the LGBT community.

“This goes out at 7.30pm on a Saturday evening when families want to sit down and watch something that won’t be challenging, won’t ask any awkward questions, won’t be embarrassing. It’s going to ruin it for family viewing.

“Once you get past the watershed, there’s plenty of programmes that cater for the demands of the LGBT community. Why are we damaging what has been seen as sacrosanct?”

He described the show in its opposite-sex format as a “beautiful idea”, and lamented its loss from his evening viewing, saying: “There’s Casualty or something we can watch.”

Jamie Laing and David James arrive onstage during the BBC Strictly Come Dancing 2019 launch. (Keith Mayhew/SOPA Images/LightRocket/ Getty)

Wells’ anti-LGBT+ record

Wells has an extremely poor record on LGBT+ issues and has frequently faced controversy over his strong anti-gay views.

Before entering politics he was a manager of the National Trust, but ended his 19-year affiliation with the charity over its support of LGBT+ issues.

As health minister he refused to lift the country’s permanent ban on blood donation by gay men.

The politician has also previously branded Belfast Pride parade “repugnant,” called for LGBT+ events “promoting alternative lifestyles” to be banned from the Northern Ireland Assembly buildings, and vowed to boycott Primark because of its LGBT+ collection.

Wells (centre) after handing in his resignation as Northern Ireland’s Executive Health Minister (Charles McQuillan/Getty)

In September 2018, he attacked the provision of HIV-preventing drug treatments, claiming government should not fund treatment for people who “behave in a way that is taking huge risks.”

And in May this year he came under fire for saying that the election of the DUP’s first openly gay councillor “fundamentally undermines the values and traditions of the party.”