Northern Ireland’s health minister Edwin Poots’ comments and opinions, amassing a mountain of media attention, would be extremely comic if they weren’t so absurdly and blindingly problematic to his governmental position.
Poots is a young earth creationist, believing that the earth is four thousand years old; he rejects the theory of evolution and the big bang theory. He claims that dinosaurs may have existed before the flood, but he cannot say for sure. While everyone is entitled to their own opinion, Poots’ beliefs are somewhat problematic for his position in office, which mainly focuses on assessing scientific evidence.
Of course, as expected, another one of these worrying opinions leaking into his political choices is his intense homophobia. Currently, he is attempting to overturn the law allowing same-sex couples to adopt. He continues his fight to maintain the ban on homosexual men giving blood, arguing that his decision is purely based on the safety of the blood.
In June last year, he was criticized when he claimed that he wished to extend the gay blood ban to also include people who have sex with somebody from Africa and prostitutes. In response to removing the blood ban last week, according to Pink News, he told the Assembly, “Shame on the courts for going down the road of constantly attacking Christian principles, Christian ethics, Christian morals, which this society was based on and gave us a very good foundation.”
Is it outrageous to suggest that perhaps his loaded opinions could potentially be a little on the personal side and not in the name of health?
Thankfully, I am actually not the only one who thinks this way. He is receiving criticism from the Assembly who passed a motion urging Poots to lift the blood ban. Also, over ten thousand people have signed a petition requesting that the health minister resign unless he swiftly changes his decision on the matter.
It seems he has very little left to fight for. He attempts to inflict his religious opinion on the population as if it is the only legitimate choice, and his constant attempts to maintain political homophobia merely emphasize how much his personal opinion has affected his decisions as health minister.
Religious zealots appear to dominate the DUP (Democratic Unionist Party) who unfortunately also dominate the government, sharing their power with the Sinn Féin. Northern Ireland is relatively new to the concept of peace, which has lead human rights to take a secondary position of importance.
However, now that the “West” is beginning to focus on human rights and equality, Poots has finally come under the fire he deserves for his extreme homophobic opinions. At last the criticism aimed at him has clarified his inability to separate his views from health politics.
It seems that, with the Assembly and predominately the Sinn Féin party members attempting to change his mind or remove him from position, Northern Ireland is making progress. And with this step will hopefully come the legalization of gay marriage.