The newly-elected leader of the DUP Edwin Poots, who has a long history of opposing LGBT+ rights, has insisted he’s definitely “had people who are gay in his house”.
The former Northern Ireland health minister was declared winner of the DUP’s leadership race on Friday (14 May), succeeding Arlene Foster.
Poots is a “young Earth creationist” who believes that the world is only between 6,000 and 10,000 years old, and has spent his political career pushing back against advancements in LGBT+ rights.
But speaking to BBC broadcaster Stephen Nolan on his show Nolan Live, Poots wanted everyone to know: “I’ve had people who are gay in my house.”
He said: “I don’t believe that you can fix or cure people of their sexuality. People’s sexuality is their sexuality.”
However he followed this up by saying gay people are “probably” born that way, but that being gay was “something that many people have grown to be”.
Poots also said: “I have worked with people who are gay. I have worked for people who are gay. I have had people who are gay in my house who I have done constituency work for. I seek to treat everybody the same.”
Edwin Poots fought to stop gay and bisexual men donating blood.
Despite his insistence that he wants to “treat everybody the same”, Edwin Poots fought hard as health minister to stop gay and bisexual men from donating blood in Northern Ireland, claiming that the “high risk sexual behaviour” of queer men should exclude them.
Poots, who has been described by LGBT+ rights campaigner Peter Tatchell as a “notorious homophobe”, also appealed a 2012 High Court ruling which found same-sex couples in civil partnerships were being discriminated against because they weren’t allowed to adopt children.
He said at the time: “Shame on the courts for going down the road of constantly attacking Christian principles, Christian ethics, Christian morals, which this society was based on and gave us a very good foundation.”