#givepootstheboot: Minister spends £100k opposing #LGBT blood donation and adoption

A few days ago it was revealed that Health Minister Edwin Poots is to fritter away more department money in his attempts to prevent the extension of adoption rights to gay and same-sex (and un-married) couples by taking the case to the Supreme Court.

The Green Party leader, Steven Agnew, had Edwin Poots clarify legal costs for defending his (Poots’) stance on the lifetime ban on gay men donating blood. Poots gave that as £37,112 (net of VAT). When asked to provide costs for appealing the High Court decision that a ban on civil partners adopting children was illegal, Poots gave the figure as £17k, on top of £40k already spent unsuccessfully trying to oppose the adoption provisions.

Mr Agnew urged Mr Poots to stop using public money to promote his own agenda saying:

The minister revealed he had spent around £17,000 appealing the High Court decision ruling that the ban on people in a civil partnership adopting children was illegal. During the ruling Lord Justice Girvan said the Department of Health hadn’t put forward any justification to exclude same-sex couples as parties eligible to adopt as a couple. And yet Minister Poots is still considering spending more public money to fight this decision.

Previously a High Court judge accused the Health Minister of displaying prejudice in maintaining a lifetime ban on homosexual men giving blood in the north (it was lifted in England, Scotland and Wales in 2011).

The convenor of the Alliance Party’s LGBT group, Stephen Donnan, spoke to EILE Magazine about the Health Minister:

Edwin Poots can no longer justify his position as Health Minister, given the staggering amount of public resources and funds that he has wasted, trying to deny [MSM] the opportunity to donate blood. We have seen first-hand his baseless contempt for LGBT families and now he is openly squandering much needed blood donations from gay and bisexual men, at a time when we need as many donations as possible.

Sinn Féin MLA Maeve McLaughlin has been equally scathing:

The health minister has brought his own personal prejudices to this issue in the same way that these prejudices clouded his judgement regarding gay people donating blood. This not only affects people in same sex relationships but also unmarried couples and those in civil partnerships. The focus in any adoption has to be the child’s welfare and to deny children a good home on the basis of prejudices is wrong.

A number of times over the last few days the hashtag #givepootstheboot has been trending on Twitter in Belfast and there is also an online petition for the Health Minister to be removed or resign his post. You can (and should) sign the petition here

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  • sherdy

    Is this waste of public money not another illustration of the inability of Robbo to lead his party in a sensible and reasonable manner.
    And what influence have our spending watchdogs over a minister living out his bigotry at our expense?

  • ThomasPaine

    So the economy is still limping along and people are still losing their jobs, but Poots still thinks it’s proper to spend more public money on pursuing his and his party’s vendetta against the LGBT community.

    And all because a 2500 year old piece of sadomasochistic literature written by uneducated iron age shepherds, which does nothing but inspire intolerance, fear, hatred and ignorance told him to.

    Meanwhile people are dying due to not getting the right blood transfused in time and vulnerable children staying in a care home are being abused in the most abhorrent ways, instead of being kept safe with loving parents who may or may not be gay.

  • Rory Carr

    Should the campaign for the defenestration of Mr Poots succeed he should not concern himself unduly about future prospects for there is surely at least one senior government post suitable to his talents, indeed one for which his aptitudes would appear to be almost divinely inspired. I speak of course of the role of Witchfinder General.

  • jagmaster

    What with Junior’s expenses, Peter’s holiday home in Florida, employing close family members as secretary’s and now this. It seems the DUP’s avowed love of Britain and the continuance of the Union is all down to taking it’s taxpayers for a ride.

  • RegisterForThisSite

    Still a lot less cash than that spent by the SoS and PSNI in opposing the release of documents by the Public Records Office recently before they agreed that they were …er…Public Records.

  • It would be interesting to get Edwin Poots to give scientific evidence tor every one of his actions, from his attempts to promote creationism in museums onwards.

    The assembly should require all Ministers to pass a science examination to qualify them for the job of Minister in the 21st century.

  • Rory Carr

    What makes Poots’s prohibition on the acceptance of blood donations from gay men all the more ridiculous (& indeed somewhat heinous) is one’s understanding that openly gay men, that is those who are frank and open with the blood donor service about their sexual practises, are those most likely to have taken proper precautions during sex play and to have availed themselves of regular testing for symptoms of disease whereas those men who engage promiscuously with others in secret while denying any homosexual behaviour are those who pose the greater threat of donating infected blood. Yet such men, who could well include party colleagues or party members as well as constituents of theMinister, are not prohibited from offering donations. The Minister, it must be said, is not only insanely prejudiced, he is a dangerous idiot.

  • Granni Trixie

    This waste of resources to further a personal agenda defies belief. Surely anyone in Poots position ought to be looking at strategic objectives and Prog. For Gov to deliver. It also. Demonstrates lack of leadership in value for inclusion.

    And am i wrong also to think that other DUP ministers have tried to further (inappropriately) their personal morality in this way? Eg Nelson McCauseland

  • Comrade Stalin

    Of course the DUP mix their religious agenda with politics. It’s what they were voted in to do.

    Far from harming Poots, this will allow him to play up the image of a principled man following the word of “God” despite taking public criticism for it. Water off a duck’s back.

  • Shibboleth

    I wonder how much public money is squandered on gay pride events in NI.

  • Coll Ciotach

    Poots is doing a good job by insisting on high standards for our blood transfusion service . Long may this continue and those who wish to put our health at risk for the sake of a misplaced sense of equality need to wise up.

    As for adoption the sole criteria is the childs best interest, the adopters needs, wants or desires are very subordinate. And I believe that once again the selfish desires of an agenda driven rights community is being mollycoddled. I strongly believe that the best interest of the child is served by placement in a stable environment with both male and female influence. I would be interested in seeing any study that suggested the obvious.

  • Coll Ciotach

    oops – the last line should read – suggest the opposite

  • Scáth Shéamais

    I strongly believe that the best interest of the child is served by placement in a stable environment with both male and female influence. I would be interested in seeing any study that suggested the opposite.

    “A study conducted by the American Psychological Association (APA) in July 2004 concluded that “there is no scientific evidence that parenting effectiveness is related to parental sexual orientation: lesbian and gay parents are as likely as heterosexual parents to provide supportive and healthy environments for their children.”” (mediamatters.org)

    “High-risk children adopted from foster care do equally well when placed with gay, lesbian or heterosexual parents, UCLA psychologists report in the first multi-year study of children adopted by these three groups of parents.” (sciencedaily.com)

  • Delphin

    Ah John, how thoughtful of you to serve up Poots like a fish in a barrel for sluggerites to take a pop at. You have got to understand he is a poor sheep farmer and knows no better. If he wasn’t minister of Health he would be doing something else equally badly, like that eejit Ruane who is now doing sterling service on the policing board. Any one for tennis?

  • Barnshee

    Take it out of his salary

  • glenda lough

    People are so unkind to Mr Poots. I have it on very good authority that he was seriously frightened as a child. It seems when visiting a friend’s house he entered a room where the television was showing Liberace and ran away screaming (1) because it was Liberace and (2) he had never seen a television before. Poor soul. Praise Jesus.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    But seriously, this is public money being spent. If it wasn’t being borrowed by an English Government to pass on to Good Shepherd Poots and his like, it might even be coming out of our pockets!!!

    And, except for the wised-up 45.3% who did not troll round to a poll booth last time, Poots is part of a system your vote supports, election after election.

  • Framer

    It is the inevitable result of a devolved legislature.
    Get used to it. Indeed learn to like and praise it.

  • Newman

    Is there not a reasonable point of principle here? Surely it is for the legislature to make the law not the judiciary. Some may exult that one decision goes their way but there will be others. We run into problems when legislation is overruled not on the basis of parliamentary or an assembly vote but on the personal views of judges albeit grounded on a convention which keeps developing on the basis of decisions by other judges. We need to be careful what we wish for.

  • cynic2

    Its all Gods work (well a Gods work anyway) and its Gods money so this is Gods servant spending His money on His work, so where’s the argument?

    Of course the Gayers are His Children too so if they gave their gay blood to non Gays God would have to ensure that there was no harm in it ….so ….that means that ………. Peter ? Peter? My head hurts again? What do I do?

  • cynic2

    “he is a poor sheep farmer”

    Isn’t that the definition of a DUP MLA?

  • Comrade Stalin

    Coll Ciotach,

    You better be careful you don’t fall sick elsewhere in the UK or in many parts of Europe. You could end up with some of the gay blood Poots is trying to save you from.

  • cynic2

    “I wonder how much public money is squandered on gay pride events in NI.”

    I wonder how much public money is squandered on churches

  • Shibboleth

    With marriage in decline perhaps we could launch Marriage Pride and get Govt Funds. No one would object to a minority being supported after all. Oh wait it’s only certain minorities that matter.

  • Granni Trixie

    Doh! The reason we need interventions such as Gay Pride is to address prejudice by people in Ni towards that community and which impacts on their well being. As a tax oayer I say what’s wrong with that?

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Oh Newman,

    “Is there not a reasonable point of principle here? Surely it is for the legislature to make the law not the judiciary.”

    But what if the legislature is a sort of low key lynch mob? Having met both examples socially, the judiciary (desperate to avoid a long court hearing that would keep them from the golf course) and the legislature (see above) I really cannot see this in other than Yeats’ “What if the Church and the State/are the mob who howls at the door?”

    And with Shepard Poots we have the towering intellect of the wee gospel hall ranter combined with, alas, an important role in our august legislature.

    Just what is it with you lot? Just how does recieving a lot of votes from people who only understand a fragement of what a politician intends and will actually do in office seriously qualify anyone voted into office to make really important decisions about other peoples lives? This is a nineteenth century system that hardly worked then. We need something more genuinely, to use a much misunderstood word, democratic!!! Something that is actually sensitive to the real needs of real people, not reifications such as “legislature” and “judiciary” wars.

  • streetlegal

    Poots has been a disaster as Minister of Health and Social Services. He would have been sacked by now – Peter Robinson has made it clear that he doesn’t rate Poots and wants him out of the Executive. But Poots is aligned with the reactionary wing of the DUP, now in the ascendancy – and Robinson is too weak a leader to move against him.

  • paulG

    I have to say, if my daughter was in need of a transfusion and they offered blood from a gay man or a straight man, I would definitely choose the latter on the basis that there would be less risk of Hep C or HIV.

    I bet most Gays and Lesbians, if their own life was on the line, would too.

    That said, I’m not happy about the way the Americans get blood from tramps and winos etc. and then sell it over here.

    With the huge rise in promiscuity, the quality of blood from heterosexual donors is probably falling too. If you’re tall smart and good looking, then donate the sperm or eggs by all means, but not the blood, thanks, I’ll that from the fat ugly nerdy bloke.

    Unless every drop is very rigorously tested, it seems they should be more strict on who they take blood from, rather than less so.

  • Seamuscamp


    Which legislature has declared that the blood of homosexuals is de facto dangerous? Mr Poots is just a minister in a rump administration with limited authority. The Courts are there to ensure that such as he stay within the law. The fact that he doesn’t like equality legislation does not empower him to ignore the law as it stands.

  • Newman

    On the blood issue the question is whether the minster has acted within reason..if he has no,t and the evidence suggests that this is the case then.. I agree. Is there a reasonable body of evidence which suggests he is being irrational?…we await a decision on this…on adoption we are into different territory..hence my original point…I love the appeal from Seaan to some inchoate system where democracy can be suspended when it’s outworkings deviate from what some people think is acceptable..I agree that as a political system it is replete with problems but what do you propose in its place..a benevolent dictatorship?

  • gaygael

    So for the ill informed and the faecetious homophobes here are some key points.
    1 – Northern Ireland is not self sufficient in blood.when the rules around blood donation changed in nov. 2011 and the rest of the uk moved to the one year deferral for men who have sex with men or msm, he falsely claimed this. He has also refused to reveal the advice he was given but has been slapped by the info czar and will soon be releasing it. In 2012, it turns out, surprise surprise, guess where we imported blood from? And that of course included msm blood. His position is untenable and hypocritical! And is solely the result if his homophobia.
    As an aside, if me and my boyfriend, both HIV neg and in a monogamous relationship, we present . zero risk. Zero! But are excluded on the basis of out sexual orientation.

    2 adoption. The minister will lose at the Supreme Court. Precedent is set from the p case in. 2008. He is wasting public money to support his own homophobia again! All the professional bodies and proper peer reviewed science suggests that outcomes for children are not predicated on the sexual orientation of their parents or their relationship status. There are 2600 odds kids in care. We adopt under 100 a year, and more than. 100 go into care each year. I am on my phone so struggle to get the direct links , but I have provided the info before. We do not have enough adopters .

    Additionally, currently, married people can jointly apply to adopt, single unmarried,regardless of sexual orientation can apply, but here’s the rub, if you enter a civil pdhip, you become barred from application either jointly or singly. Many people suggest cps are the same as marriage, here is the stark case where they don’t and in fact exacerbate inequality. Again the minister acts to propAgate his ill informed homophobia.

    It’s simple. He is an unreconstructed vile homophobe. This is clearly demonstrated by his actions , policy and deliberate refusal to reveal his advice.

  • Harry Flashman

    I used to be a regular blood donor, conscientiously queuing up on my afternoon off to donate my pint at the Guildhall. It was a long-winded process and only out of a sense of civic duty did I bother.

    The last two times however I ended up queuing in vain. On the first occasion it was just as I was about to donate when the doctor asked me about my health, I honestly replied that I had a bit of a cold that day. He politely declined to take my blood and sent me on my way.

    The second occasion I was asked (again after the long queue) if I had been in South America in the previous twelve months, by a remarkable coincidence I had been in Brazil a month or two earlier. “Oh”, the doctor replied, “but I suppose you were only in the big cities right?”. Well unfortunately I had, as well as enjoying the delights of Rio, taken a three-day river cruise up the Amazon.

    No dice, apparently there was an outbreak of some blood disease spread by insects in the South American jungle, minimal risk but as a precaution people who had been there would not be able to give blood for a year or two. The doctor explained it had played havoc with blood drives in the army, a good source of donations, due to their service in Belize.

    What is one to make of this?

    Is the blood transfusion service being Latinamericanophobe? Should a campaign for equality for people from all regions and climates be launched to end this sickening discrimination? To hell with the consequences of public health! We demand our rights to donate our blood no matter what high risk activities we have been involved in!

    Just as a matter of interest should heterosexual men who have regular sex with prostitutes also be permitted so long as they give an assurance that they always use a condom? Or intravenous drug users be allowed to donate if they swear that they always use clean needles?

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Excellent points Harry!

    “Just as a matter of interest should heterosexual men who have regular sex with prostitutes also be permitted so long as they give an assurance that they always use a condom?”

    I think the point for Poots might just be that as these men are behaving “normally” their blood presents less risk of somehow making the unwary doner gay.

    @Newman, the point I’m making is that we are already in a non-benevolent dictatorship of the OFMdFM aided and abetted by their MLA minions! Thank you for admitting “that as a political system it is replete with problems.” But as this way of going about things (close co-operation between “our” representitives and powerful financial interests, both local and global) is now integral to the democratic system as it is practiced everywhere I’ve been, I really do not see how co-operating with this system by voting the tossers back into power every few years helps to rectify it. I know that saying that “Democracy is Bunk” is oh so heretical, but before considering a final solution to the Seaan problem, please check out some of my (much) earlier postings on Slugger on the Five Star movement in Italy. But then, as another Italian said once, “Molti nemici, Molto onore.”

    And I wonder if Poots will be attending an FOE event at Cathedral Quarter this evening? For anyone who might just be interested my old Friend the Rev. Billy of the Church of Stop Shopping will be conducting a most timely “New Orleans style Funeral for Democracy in Northern Ireland” (sponsered by FOE) tonight (Friday 20th September) in Cathedral Quarter between 6-10pm.


    But perhaps Bill Talen’s stated views on Gay Rights might not mesh with those of the Shepherd?

  • Seamuscamp

    Given the Godblessed Poots attitudes to so many things, ranging from fossils to parading, it is difficult to see how he would present his actions as rational and not influenced by personal religious prejudice. But the thing that must sink him (and thus confirm that his appeal is money-wasting) is that he does not ban the import of blood products from outside the Shining Six. Blood products from the larger island may derive in part from people who have dangerous lifestyles (the point being that some homosexuals eg Cardinal Newman have safe lifestyles). At one time (perhaps it is still the case) such might be adulterated by products from the US; where blood collection is a commercial transaction and a reliable source of income for down-and-outs. Perhaps Godgiven Poots should have a word with Pope Francis?

  • pomdotcom

    of course remember that Poots was “created” and did not “evolve”

  • SeaanUiNeill


    “I love the appeal from Seaan to some inchoate system where democracy can be suspended when it’s outworkings deviate from what some people think is acceptable.”


    “We need something more genuinely, to use a much misunderstood word, democratic!!! Something that is actually sensitive to the real needs of real people, not reifications…”

    But then for some, Democracy, as they understand it, was created whole and entire by heaven’s command, and is not something vital that has evolved and is evolving.