Incoming DUP leader Edwin Poots says LGBTQ+ people will be treated same as anyone, but history of anti-gay policies suggests otherwise

In the past, Poots has attempted to stop GBT+ men from donating blood and prevent LGBTQ+ people from adopting.

An annoyed looking man on a country road

The incoming DUP leader, Edwin Poots, has said in an interview with the PA News Agency he wants to create a Northern Ireland where everyone is “free to be what they wish to be” and he will reach out to a broad range of unionist opinion. This statement doesn’t chime well with his history of comments on the LGBTQ+ community.

While serving as health minister in 2012, Poots came under fire for strongly opposing GBTMSM donating blood in Northern Ireland. Speaking to the BBC at the time, he said: “I think that people who engage in high risk sexual behaviour in general should be excluded from giving blood… And so someone who has sex with somebody in Africa or sex with prostitutes, I am very reluctant about those people being able to give blood.”

The following year, in 2013, the UK Supreme Court rejected an attempt by Poots to challenge an Appeal Court that allowed LGBTQ+ parents to adopt children in Northern Ireland. At the time, the director of LGBTQ+ group Rainbow Project stated, “Enough public money has been spent on this fool’s errand. The minister should focus his time on ensuring the best available homes for children in care in Northern Ireland.”

Despite this history, when asked what he would say to the LGBTQ+ community in light of his previous actions, the incoming DUP leader continued, “Edwin Poots is going to work for every single person in Northern Ireland, I don’t care what your background is. I want you to have a comfortable home. I want you to have good education. I want you to have good health service. I want you to have the opportunity to be what you wish to be in Northern Ireland.

“I want Northern Ireland to be one of the best places in the world to live.”

Poots’ controversial comments don’t end with the the LGBTQ+ community – when Arlene Foster was elected DUP leader in 2016, Poots stated he thought her most important job was as a “wife, mother and daughter.”

During the recent interview, speaking of himself repeatedly in the third person, the politician insisted, “Edwin Poots the individual is someone who’s a caring individual who will work for anyone irrespective of their background who wants to see Northern Ireland in a better place for everyone.”

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