Lord Maginnis, formerly an Ulster Unionist MP, has severed his party affiliation after being rebuked by the Party for anti-gay comments he made during a radio interview.
Lord Maginnis, 74, from Dungannon, Co.Tyrone, and the former MP for Fermanagh-South Tyrone said: “I have agonised over the last three months. Currently there is no room for independent or logical thinking (within the party) and that does not suit me.”
The “independent or logical thinking” that saw Maginnis draw the ire of his colleagues occurred in a BBC Northern Ireland radio interview on the Stephen Nolan show in June where Maginnis voiced staunch opposition to same-sex marriage. It was not the opposition in itself that was found to be objectionable, but rather his comments that gay marriage is “unnatural” and that it is being imposed on people, whereby he charged, “Does that mean that every deviant practice has to be accommodated? Will the next thing be that we legislate for some sort of bestiality?”
A special jibe was reserved for those who had recently taken part in Belfast Pride, too, with Maginnis reportedly saying, “These are people that seem to take some pride expressing their particular rights. I disagree with those rights and that deviance.” He went on to say that he believed that gay rights were the thin edge of the wedge that, in effect, opened the door to talk of lowering the age of consent and, potentially, the legalization of paedophilia.
When given a chance to apologize for his comments the 74-year-old insisted on not backing down, saying, “I am not ashamed of what I said, I’m not ashamed of the stance I took.”
As a result of this anti-gay outburst, Party leader Mike Nesbitt and senior party members removed Maginnis, a 50-year stalwart, from the party whip.
Said the UUP at the time: “Lord Maginnis was speaking in a personal capacity without our knowledge or permission, and his comments do not reflect Ulster Unionist Party policy.”
LGBT rights groups in Northern Ireland also criticized Maginnis for not reflecting on how his comments might harm people, especially LGBT youth.
UUP leader Mike Nesbitt today said on Lord Maginnis’ leaving the party that he was a “fearless advocate of the unionist cause,” and lamented that “recent matters” could not resolved more amicably. Nesbitt seemed saddened by Lord Maginnis’ choice to quit the party, adding, “On behalf of the party and the unionist people more widely, we owe a debt of gratitude to Ken Maginnis.”