Maginnis stirs new gay marriage storm

Ken Maginnis TT1910-160JS
Ken Maginnis TT1910-160JS
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A MONTH after losing the UUP whip for comments about homosexuality, Lord Maginnis has sent a thunderous email to a Tory think-tank which supports same-sex marriage.

The veteran Ulster Unionist – who was stripped of the UUP whip in the House of Lords last month after describing homosexuality as “a rung on the ladder” to bestiality – was infuriated that Policy Exchange had argued in favour of allowing homosexual couples to marry.

Policy Exchange has strong links to the Conservative Party and a decade ago its head of security, Dean Godson, wrote a highly-regarded biography of former UUP leader Lord Trimble.

On Saturday Lord Maginnis sent an email to the think-tank’s director, Neil O’Brien, and copied into the correspondence several journalists, senior UUP figures and two leading churchmen.

In it, the peer said that he was not homophobic but was trenchantly opposed to the Government’s “perverse” proposal for same-sex marriage.

And the former MP for Fermanagh and South Tyrone told Mr O’Brien that he would now “campaign against” Policy Exchange because of its stance on the controversial issue.

Among those who were sent copies of the email were UUP leader Mike Nesbitt, Church of Ireland Archbishop of Armagh Alan Harper and his predecessor in that position, Lord Eames.

Lord Maginnis (pictured) wrote: “I spoke to someone last week – it may have been yourself – to express my disgust that a Tory think–tank would promote ‘same-sex’ marriage – which I now note they have re-titled ‘equal marriage’. At that time I was told that Dean Godson would contact me but he has failed to do so.

“Being a firm opponent of this perverse proposal – let the Government find its own way to cope with property and financial rights of people engaged in this way of life – I now find it necessary to campaign publicly against Policy Exchange, the wisdom of financing it by private sources and the dubious nature of its ‘independence’.

“I am not homophobic but totally oppose the ‘imposition’ of this practice on the institution of ‘marriage’ which derives its purpose and meaning from biblical sources. Please remove my name from your emailing directory.”

Although David Cameron’s gay marriage policy has divided Tory opinion – and Secretary of State Owen Paterson has publicly opposed the proposal – Policy Exchange last week published a report which said that “the balance of argument favours equal marriage”.

It said: “We think legal safeguards should be put in place to prevent religious bodies from having to perform same-sex marriages on their premises but . . . there is no good reason why gay couples shouldn’t have the right to get married. The Evening Standard trailed the report’s findings on Friday and also penned a leader column praising the research and urging the Prime Minister to push through the reforms.”

When contacted by the News Letter, Policy Exchange said: “Thanks for alerting us to Lord Maginnis’ email. He’s obviously entitled to his own opinion.”

Last month Lord Maginnis said in a radio interview: “This is based on sexual practice. Now does that mean that every deviant practice has to be accommodated? Will the next thing be that we legislate for some sort of bestiality?”