Northern Irish politician faces backlash for saying he wants ‘no gay people on TV before 9pm'

Jim Wells, who has a history of homophobic comments, said he wouldn't watch Strictly Come Dancing for fear that there would be a same-sex dance routine.

Northern Irish politician Jim Wells in Good Morning Britain studio
Image: ITV

Northern Irish politician Jim Wells from the DUP has been called “a bigoted old dinosaur” following comments he made saying that LGBT+ people should not be shown on TV before 9 pm.

His latest comments were made on ITV’s Good Morning Britain. Wells said he would not watch BBC show Strictly Come Dancing in case he saw a same-sex couple dancing together.

“The show is wonderful family viewing and [the decision to allow same-sex couples] will change that considerably. You’ve had a busy week, you sit down with the family, and you watch pure entertainment,” the Northern Irish politician said.

“The last thing you want is to be challenged or to be asked deep intellectual questions.”

When asked what the “challenge” was, he continued: “What’s challenging is if you have the family, young children with you.

“They’ll be asking why are the two men or two women dancing together?”

Host Piers Morgan then asked Wells what time he thinks same-sex couples should be on television to which he replied:

“Exactly the same time as the BBC thought two years ago, at 9 pm.”

Host Susanna Reid also jumped in, asking: “Have you ever seen children dancing? They dance together; girls dance together, boys dance together. There’s nothing challenging about it.

“Your concern is about seeing gay couples. It’s not about children. The BBC is trying to reflect society.”

Morgan continued, telling Wells: “I think you’re just an old bigoted dinosaur. You feel challenged because you don’t like the idea of scary gay people around you.

“I’m not insulting you; I’m insulting your bigotry, which is irrational, inconsistent, makes no sense whatsoever.”

Morgan continued: “Most people who have this weirdly anti-gay sentiment at some stage in their life have had a ‘feeling’. Are you gay?”

In response, Wells said: “Absolutely not, I am a happily married man of 36 years with three children and four grandchildren.”

The BBC said in a statement Strictly Come Dancing is an “inclusive show”.

“[We’re] proud to have featured same-sex dancing amongst the professional dancers in group numbers in previous series,” a spokesperson said.

“We are completely open to the prospect of including same-sex pairings between our celebrities and professional dancers in the future, should the opportunity arise.”

Wells has said that he will complain to broadcasting regulator Ofcom over his treatment on Good Morning Britain claiming he was “savaged” by presenter Piers Morgan

Wells has a history of homophobic comments. In 2015, following allegations that Wells made critical comments about a lesbian couple’s “lifestyle”, he resigned as Health Minister.

Following the election of openly-gay DUP candidate Alison Bennington, Wells said that the late Ian Paisley, the former leader of the DUP, would be “aghast” at the decision to run an openly-gay candidate.

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