Category Archives: young people

Jim Wells’ comments in last night’s hustings

Firstly all of those at LGBT+ Liberal Democrats Northern Ireland want to say we are glad to have read the news in the Belfast Telegraph the other day that Mrs Grace Wells is recovering from the rare condition that affected her a short while ago. We wish her all the best in the future and understand the strain this may have put Jim Wells under.

However, if he was really under a lot of stress looking after his wife it should surely have been grounds for him not to put himself under further stress on top of being an MLA and Health Minister to seek election to Westminster. We are putting this up front as Jim Wells in a statement issued last night (see below) mentioned personal stress in recent weeks.

It is this series of comments from last night’s hustings in South Down that has brought this to a head:

Jim Wells

The comments can be viewed in video clips online.

Must horrifying of all with a raucous crowd to the last part about abuse, he immediately sets out to repeat his comments as clarification that he had said them and wanted them to be heard

The last of the sequence is that one that caused the uproar but comments have been made by members of the DUP that they have been taken out of context to the early comments about haranguing Christians and being insatiable lead up to the one about abuse of children by those in homosexual relationships.

There are over 1,200 children currently in care in Northern Ireland as the result of being victims of abuse. Is Mr Wells therefore saying that over 600 of these are from the result of having two carers of the same sex? Note we did not say parents as currently he is not allowing same-sex couples to adopt here despite a court ruling that the law should be changed to allow this. The facts of course are that very few of those children are there as a result of same-sex parents from come from homes with a father and mother involved in their upbringing.

In context of course Mr Wells had previously said that all who took part in Pride were repugnant, this was long before his wife’s current illness.

Mr Wells comments about abuse also seem to flow his comments about the victim of a rape who becomes pregnant in 2014 he said:

“That is a tragic and difficult situation but should the ultimate victim of that terrible act [rape] – which is the unborn child – should he or she also be punished for what has happened by having their life terminated? No.”

There seems to be no realisation that the ultimate victim of any unwanted sexual encounter is the woman who has suffered. It is her body that has been violated, her emotions that have become distraught, her rights that have been abused. It leads to the question does the Health Minister really understand abuse in any situation.

Mr Wells also during the break between the first debate and vote on equal marriage in Stormont was in front of one of members, whom he had meet before, in the restaurant. When the member said hello and was about to ask how his wife and family were, was shunned by Mr Wells with the comment “Oh, you’re one of them!” before he turned heel and ended the civil on the part of our member’s conversation.

Here is Mr Wells’ response after the hustings debate last night:

“The last few weeks have been extremely difficult for me personally. I had just come from a hospital visit and my focus was not on the debate. Indeed, during the event I received several messages from the hospital.

“I have listened to a recording of the relevant part of the debate. I accept that one line of what I said caused offence and deep concern amongst members of the audience and beyond. I regret having wrongly made that remark about abuse and I’m sorry those words were uttered. The comment did not reflect my view nor that of my party.

“Within seconds of realising this error, I asked the Chairman to let me back in and twice corrected my remarks before the debate moved on. This clarification has been confirmed by the journalists present at the event. Partial clips, spin and selective reporting regrettably miss this.

“The neglect or abuse of children is awful and happens in unstable relationships whether they are heterosexual or homosexual. I make no distinction between anyone who neglects or abuses a child regardless of their sexual orientation. I trust people will accept my explanation and my apology.”

If we give Mr Wells the benefit of the doubt over the first sentence we would like to ask why has he made the past few weeks and next couple even more difficult for himself by standing for election in another legislature at this difficult personal time. Clearly this thought wasn’t to the forefront of his mind when he signed the papers allowing himself to be nominated as the DUP candidate for South Down.

But on the matter of an issue such as abuse which falls under his Health and Social Care remit he should surely be aware of the sensitive nature of his comments and the facts about the situation here in Northern Ireland. While he has the right to say he is opposed to same-sex marriage he does not have the right to make up statistics, facts and vilify every lesbian, gay or bisexual person in Northern Ireland in doing so.

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Filed under Equal Marriage, Health, NI Assembly, Westminster, young people

Tom Buchanan’s disgraceful message to young people

The DUP have an attraction to only one of the Old Testement abominations. You never hear them speaking out against (amongst others):

  • Eating things from the river or sea that don’t have fins (i.e. lobster, prawns) Leviticus 11: 12
  • Or Ostrich burgers Leviticus 11: 16
  • Those who are greedy for gain Jeremiah 6: 13-15
  • Women wearing things that pertain to men, or men dressing as women Deuteronomy 22: 5
  • Haughty eyes, lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, hearts that devise wicked plans, feet that run hastily to evil, false witnesses (not looking at you Edwin Poots), those who show discord among brothers (not looking at those leaflets in East Belfast late last year) Proverbs 6: 16-19
  • Those who have committed abomination with their neighbour’s wife Ezekiel 22: 11

Speaking of which we end up talking about the wife of the First Minister.

When Iris Robinson at the time still the MP and MLA for Strangford said on Radio Ulster that homosexuality was an abomination she was quite rightly rebuked from many sectors of the Northern Irish community. However, it appears that DUP elected repesentatives have not learned.

Today we learn that last week Tom Buchanan, DUP MLA for West Tyrone, during a NI Assembly Let’s Talk event aimed at school children, in response to a question on homosexuality and marriage equality. He is reported as saying homosexuality ‘isn’t right’ but then went further to say it was ‘an abomination’. Whilst some of the assembly school children applauded the majority voiced their approval.

This sort of comment aimed at young people shows the need for the long overdue Sexual Orientation Strategy as well as the need for an education policy that recognises LGBTQ young people go to school in Northern Ireland and prevents bullying or casting them aside. Indeed we have done for many years and generation and have often come up against all sorts of barriers to being open about who we are.

Mr Buchanan had no idea if any LGBTQ young people were in that meeting, nor does he have any idea as to the mental state that any of them might be in. Speaking from personal experience at that sort of age I didn’t like myself for my own sexual orientation because of the reinforcing behaviour of politicians, church leaders etc around me at the time. At times the sense that Northern Ireland was rejecting me lead me to contemplate suicide. Therefore this sort of comments still coming from public officials, into a company of young and potentially some questioning teenagers who many not have the support network either in their school, or amongst their peers could be potentially damaging.

One thing that I am glad about is that the majority of Mr Buchanan’s audience vocalised their disgust at what he had said. Which should mean that any LGBTQ young person who was present may have felt support from within the room. But what if one of those young people found themselves sitting amongst friends who were in that group who applauded.

While we respect Mr Buchanan’s right to speak in opposition to marriage equality he and others should think about the language that they use in doing so, the consequences that such language could have, especially in light of the age and potential insecurity of the audience.

LGBTQ young people in Northern Ireland are substantially more prone to self harm, or attempt to commit suicide. This is not because they are more mentally unstable but because they feel like outcasts and often that they are the only one. This is especially true in rural areas such as in Tyrone and Fermanagh where of the young people at this meeting came from.

If any young person was affected by what Mr Buchanan said and wants someone to talk to I would recommend GLYNI you can contact them through their website, or if it is urgent call Cara-Friend on 02890890202

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Filed under Health, homophobia, young people