Man whose query prompted Jim Wells resignation ‘incredulous’

Gay man welcomes Wells decision - ‘I only wish that he had stood down as MLA too’

 The DUP’s Jim Wells at  Stormont after his resignation as Northern Ireland  Minister for Health  on April 27th, 2015. Photograph: Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

The DUP’s Jim Wells at Stormont after his resignation as Northern Ireland Minister for Health on April 27th, 2015. Photograph: Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

 

A gay man whose question prompted the resignation on Monday of Northern Ireland’s minister for health Jim Wells has said he was left incredulous by his response.

Mr Wells, of the DUP, made remarks at a hustings event in Co Down linking homosexual parents with child abuse.

He apologised and resigned from the powersharing executive at Stormont.

Peter Surginor, an artist aged 29 from near Downpatrick, welcomed the resignation.

He said: “I did not believe that he had said it. I thought that he was smarter than that, to say something like that. He said that the facts show this - but he has failed to show where the facts are.”

The DUP could win up to 10 seats in the United Kingdom general election and their votes may be sought after by any coalition in a hung parliament.

British prime minister David Cameron and his coalition partner, Liberal Democrats leader Nick Clegg, have distanced themselves from some of Northern Ireland’s largest party’s views on gay rights.

Mr Wells, a long-standing public representative in South Down, announced his resignation on Monday after he said during a public meeting in Downpatrick that a child brought up in a homosexual relationship was far more likely to be abused and neglected.

Second incident

He stepped down following a second incident while canvassing in Rathfriland, Co Down, in which a lesbian couple complained to police about his conduct in relation to their sexuality.

Mr Wells said he was under pressure caring for his seriously ill wife. He has been campaigning for election to Westminster.

DUP leader and Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson has said the comments did not represent the party’s view.

Mr Surginor said: “The DUP are not known for their enlightened thoughts on the issue.

“I welcome his [Mr Wells’s] resignation, I only wish that he had stood down as MLA too. I don’t think he had a chance in the first place of being elected MP, but he definitely will not now.

“I think that public pressure made him resign, but this is not a victory for anybody, when you live in a society where the health minister can come out with such comments.”

Mr Surginor, from Ballyhornan, said he asked the question because he wants one day to be free to marry his partner David Lee.

“I would like the right to same-sex marriage. You should not have to ask the DUP for the same rights that are extended to other people.”

Mr Robinson has said the party would not be recognising the marriage of a gay couple, but said such relationships were catered for within the scope of the existing law by way of a civil partnership.

A referendum on the issue is due in the Republic of Ireland within days.

Press Association