Health minister Jim Wells (pictured), a candidate for the DUP in South Down, stepped down today after police received complaints about comments he allegedly made to a gay couple while out canvassing in the general election at the weekend.
The PSNI confirmed it had received three complaints about the conduct of an individual in Rathfriland in County Down on Saturday evening, reports BBC News.
It is alleged that Wells called to the house of a lesbian couple while out canvassing and made critical comments about their “lifestyle” in conversation.
Wells came under fire last week for linking gay relationships to child abuse during a public debate. “You don’t bring a child up in a homosexual relationship,” he told the audience. “That a child is far more likely to be abused and neglected.”
The PSNI is investigating complaints made about those remarks, along with the remarks he is alleged to have made at the weekend.
Wells said in a statement that he was leaving his position to care for his sick wife. “Those who know my family and I, know the last three months have been the toughest of our lives as we watched my wife, Grace, suffer two successive strokes and battle through major heart surgery,” he said
“At no time did I set out to upset or offend anyone and it has upset me greatly that the comments made have caused distress to some within our community, “ he added.
“Mr Wells has clearly been under increased pressure as a result of his wife’s serious illness and his decision to step down was the right thing to do,” said Sinn Féin MLA Maeve McLaughlin.
“However, his position as health minister was clearly untenable after his attack on the LGBT community, which was completely unacceptable from someone holding the position.”
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