Mr Lunn asked the Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety, given his responsibilities, whether he still holds the view, expressed by him and by members of his party, that homosexuality is an illness treatable by medical or psychiatric means.
Mr Poots: I do not think that I ever said that.
Maybe his comments back in 2005 that is was unnatural in the first instance and abominable in the second instance are the comment that sprung to mind.
Mr Lunn: I will try to find the reference for him. I will ask the same question again: does he think that homosexuality is an illness treatable by medical or psychiatric means or does he think that, as has been expressed by another Member of his party, it is an abomination? (Editor: Actually Trevor was being polite here as the minister himself said it while he was only a councillor)
Mr Poots: I do not think that it is an illness, in the first instance. (Editor: Just immoral and an abomination, eh?) I think that many people have various elements to their lives. When it comes to sexuality, many people who are heterosexual desire lots of other folks, and those of us who are married should not be doing that, so people can resist urges. I encourage people to take a sensible, rational view on these issues. I know that there have been a number of challenges about me and the various stances that I take. I will make it very clear that my stance on blood safety is purely about safety.
When it comes to my stance on adoption, I have just come from a midwifery-led unit in Lagan Valley, and all the people who were giving birth in that unit were women, and all those women were not impregnated by other women. So, whether one believes in God or in evolution, the natural order is for a man and a woman to have a child. (Editor: Can he be sure that non of them were the result of IVF therapy or that some of them weren't in a same-sex relationship to raise the child?) Therefore, that has made my views on adoption and raising children very clear; it should be a man and a woman who raise a child. People can criticise me for that, and they can challenge me for that and say that it is backward. The truth is that still today, in this modern era, it is only a man and a woman who can produce a child. Therefore, it is in the best order for a man and a woman to raise a child.
Now the sentence:
"When it comes to sexuality, many people who are heterosexual desire lots of other folks, and those of us who are married should not be doing that, so people can resist urges."throws up a number of interesting questions as to what does the minister mean.
Is it saying that homosexuals should resist their urges? Is he saying that all married heterosexuals are faithful? Is he saying that all homosexuals are promiscuous? What is also interesting that when being asked about the medical or psychiatric state of homosexual, Poots immediately transposes that into adoption. That is almost as if he is subliminally linking the two.
There is a lot of stuff that is left unsaid. There is also a lot in there that is not actually an accurate reflection of the heterosexual community which clearly Mr Poots has more personal experience of. This therefore casts doubt on his ability to understand fully another section which he claims to not have interaction with and is solely relying what he reads or hears about that community.
The other thing is his 100% assertion that all the women in the Lagan Valley hospital were not impregnated by a woman. If they were giving birth as a result of IVF it is possible that a woman may have introduced the sperm to the egg and implanted the fertilised egg into the womb. This is a scientific possibility these days. I have no doubt that all the people giving birth in that unit were women. However, I would suggest that not every woman in that maternity unit every day will be rising that child with the child's sperm provider.
Indeed I reckon that if Edwin Poots looks through his own family history he will discover that not everyone in it was consistently raised by a man and a woman. There will have been times that the mother died in childbirth and the father raised the children, or maybe the father died before the child was born and maybe the child was raised by its widowed mother and her widowed mother. This is what is perfectly natural and has happened throughout history.
What is in the best order for a child however, is that is it raised in a loving family from as early a stage as possible. The longer a child remains in the care system the more it will suffer academically and developmentally. By delaying dealing with the promised children and adoption bill because of his fight over allowing unmarried and same sex couples to adopt he is hurting those children. Northern Ireland is proportionately slower at placing children the UK average is 69% within 12 months but only 55% in Northern Ireland.
That figures needs to come down, the 4% of adoptions that take place with same-sex couples in the rest of the UK may not be matched here in Northern Ireland, but when you add in unmarried couples adopting together that figure probably would be surpassed and make inroads into the suitable homes for placements.
I will however return to the fact that Mr Poots immediately turned this question and the supplementary into a answer about adoption. As I said above he almost makes a subliminal link between the two. It is almost as if the reason he will not allow same-sex couples to adopt IS because he thinks homosexuality is an illness treatable by medical or psychiatric means and therefore until treated those individuals should not be allowed to adopt.
To therefore start with a first instance of "I do not think that it is an illness" before going on to blood and adoption something that was not asked in this instance is a case of the Minister answering what he thought he was being asked not what he actually was. By carrying on he has actually accentuated his own prejudices, his own lack of understanding of what is going on in heterosexual relationships and in birthing methods. All of which come under his remit.