Maginnis remarks on gay people 'not UUP policy'

Thu, Jun 14, 2012, 01:00

THE ULSTER Unionist Party has stated remarks by party member Lord (Ken) Maginnis about the “deviant” practice of homosexuality do not reflect party policy.

UUP leader Mike Nesbitt also issued an instruction to party members yesterday that anyone wishing to make comments or statements to the press must first get permission from the party press office.

Lord Maginnis, the former MP for Fermanagh-South Tyrone triggered calls that he should be censured after he commented on BBC Radio Ulster’s Stephen Nolan Show about proposals to legislate for gay marriage in Britain.

Lord Maginnis said he opposed gay marriage because it was “unnatural” and he did not believe society should “have imposed on it something that is unnatural”.

“This is really based upon sexual practice,” said Lord Maginnis. “Does that mean that every deviant practice has to be accommodated? Will the next thing be that we legislate for some sort of bestiality?”

Asked was he equating gay sex with bestiality, Lord Maginnis replied: “I am saying it is a rung on the ladder.” He added that he had a right to define homosexuality “as I see it” and he did not think “we should be doing anything to encourage this deviant practice”.

The UUP distanced itself from his comments. In a statement the party said: “Lord Maginnis was speaking in a personal capacity without our knowledge or permission, and his comments do not reflect Ulster Unionist Party policy.”

Alliance Assembly member Stewart Dickson said UUP leader Mr Nesbitt should take disciplinary action against Lord Maginnis.

John O’Doherty, director of the gay rights organisation the Rainbow Project, said Lord Maginnis should “retract his prejudiced and uninformed comments and apologise for the damage he has caused”. He also called on the UUP to denounce the comments.

Meanwhile, a new report from the North’s Equality Commission has noted a hardening in attitudes towards people from minority or vulnerable backgrounds.

More than a quarter (27 per cent) of 1,101 people surveyed said they would mind a gay, lesbian or bisexual person living next door to them, compared with 14 per cent in 2005; and 42 per cent were unhappy about them becoming an in-law, a rise of 13 percentage points over the last six years.