Ulster Unionist Party member of the House of Lords Ken Maginnis has angered civil rights campaigners by comparing homosexuality to bestiality.
Speaking on The Nolan Show on BBC Radio Ulster today, the former Ulster Defence Regiment major was criticising plans by British Prime Minister David Cameron to legislate for gay marriage.
John O’Doherty from the Rainbow Project, which promotes health and mental well-being among gay and bisexual men in the North of Ireland, said that all he and other campaigners were calling for was “for all marriages to be recognised as equal”.
Lord Maginnis responded by saying that all such marriages are not seen as equal by everybody and claiming that moves to legislate for gay marriage would “devalue” marriage between a man and a woman. He then asked: “Does that mean every deviant practice has to be accommodated? Will the next thing mean we legislate for some sort of bestiality?”
Asked by host Stephen Nolan if he was drawing a comparison between homosexuality and bestiality, Ken Maginnis responded by saying it is “a rung on the ladder”.
The Ulster Unionist Party was forced to publicly distance itself from the remarks, saying that Maginnis had spoken in a personal capacity.
John O’Doherty said it is “reprehensible that a senior political figure should claim that people in loving and committed relationships are ‘unnatural’ and ‘deviant’”.