Ken Maginnis quits Ulster Unionist Party after gay row
The former Ulster Unionist MP Lord Maginnis has quit the party, he announced today.
He has been a member for 50 years, but announced his decision to resign his membership after the leadership distanced themselves when he referred to gay marriage as "unnatural and deviant behaviour".
Lord Maginnis later insisted he stood by his remarks, referring to "unnatural physical acts" by "deviants". He added: "These are people that seem to take some pride expressing their particular rights. I disagree with those rights and that deviance."
Party leader Mike Nesbitt and senior party members were clearly embarrassed by his attack and today he said it was time to leave.
Lord Maginnis, 74, from Dungannon, Co.Tyrone, and the former MP for Fermanagh-South Tyrone said: "I have agonised over the last three months. Currently there is no room for independent or logical thinking (within the party) and that does not suit me."
Party leader Mike Nesbitt said Lord Maginnis's decision to quit was not the outcome he had been seeking - quite the opposite.
He added: "He was the sort of progressive Unionist I admire. I regret we will not have access to his experience and expertise as we move to rebuild and revive this great party. However, 50 years' service is a lifetime's devotion, and I must respect his decision.
"I hope we can now focus on a legacy of service over a number of decades rather than concentrate on more recent matters, which I believe could have been resolved at any time."