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).
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