Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 29 August 2015

If Edwin Poots' personal values prevent him representing all the people of Northern Ireland, then he should step aside

By Steven Agnew

Published 20/11/2013

Health Minister Edwin Poots
Health Minister Edwin Poots

In response to an Assembly oral question on homosexuality, Edwin Poots stated: "Whether one believes in God, or in evolution, the natural order is for a man and a woman to have a child."

On what basis does Edwin Poots make these statements? There will be many Christians who see no contradiction between belief in God and evolution and will be offended by his words.

The "natural order" – now there's a term that sends shivers up my spine.

Appealing to the "natural order" is a shortcut for saying this cannot be disagreed with. That type of language should worry any democrat.

What does it mean anyway? IVF treatment isn't "natural", but it is funded by the NHS in Northern Ireland, including under Edwin Poots' watch.

By appealing to the "natural order", the minister is suggesting there is a 'right' way to procreate and raise children – morally right.

Evidence suggests that children can do just as well being raised by parents of the same gender. The minister's view has no rational basis.

That becomes clear when the minister adds: "Therefore, that has made my views on adoption and raising children very clear; it should be a man and a woman who raise a child."

The minister makes a jump from a statement of fact to one of value. Because it is the case that it takes a man and woman to make a baby, there is no logical implication that they are the 'best' people to raise the child they create.

The decisions of any minister should not be based solely on personal values.

The religious community itself is very diverse. There will be disagreement within that community.

The Free Presbyterian Church, of which the minister is a member, is one small denomination out of many.

A minister's duty is to act on behalf of all the people of Northern Ireland; of all religious views and of none.

If his personal values prevent him from doing that, then he should step aside.

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