An Ulster Unionist councillor has withdrawn comments comparing homosexuality to a “disease” during a debate on gay marriage.
Jackie Crawford made his controversial comments while discussing a Sinn Fein motion on gay marriage at a meeting of Magherafelt District Council on Tuesday.
“It’s a pity they have that disease and they can't help it,” he argued in opposition to the motion which was passed 10-5.
“It's the same as you being born with a disability. They can't help what they are.
“I know gay people and they are nice people and not bad people but they should not be getting married.”
Last night he told the Belfast Telegraph he was still opposed to gay marriage, based on his reading of the bible, but that he regretted comparing same sex orientation to an illness.
“If I had to say it again I wouldn’t use the word disease,” he admitted.
He added: “I am not condemning homosexuals. I simply meant that they are born that way and it is not something they choose; disease was a slip of the tongue and I regret using the word.”
The councillor said: “I have nothing against civil partnerships as long as they are not getting married.”