Tributes as unionist commentator Christopher Luke dies
A gay activist who sparked controversy when he penned an emotional memorial notice for former Ulster Unionist leader Lord Molyneaux last year has died.
Englishman Christopher Luke claimed he had a 30-year relationship with Mr Molyneaux - although this was strongly denied by the peer's anguished family.
In a memorial notice published in the Belfast Telegraph last March - a year after Lord Molyneaux's death - Mr Luke wrote "Your love for me was wonderful, more wonderful than that of women. I love you more today than I did yesterday, but less than I will tomorrow, my dear Jim, your eternal protege, Chrissie."
Mr Luke, from Tunbridge Wells, Kent, later described it as "brotherly love" on a radio show.
Senior unionist sources later cast doubt on claims by Mr Luke about the alleged relationship, with one saying he had never even seen the two men together.
Gareth Lee, the gay activist who won a discrimination case against Ashers Bakery when it refused to make a cake with a slogan promoting same-sex marriage, paid tribute to Mr Luke on Facebook.
He said he was "always a lot of fun" and "had a big kind heart... I always will appreciate the supportive messages that he sent me and my partner".
Ulster Unionist councillor Jeff Dudgeon said last night: "When I first met Christopher he was a hardline evangelical Christian.
"He became a dedicated gay activist in his latter years and we had much in common. He also remained a dedicated unionist."
Mr Luke - an outspoken defender of the unionist cause - was also known as a prolific letter writer to newspapers and a hardline opponent of the Good Friday Agreement.
He was later expelled from the Orange Order after he published the home address of former UUP leader David Trimble.
However, Mr Luke had another side to his character.
His political activism included support for same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland and campaigning for the disabled.
One friend paying tribute to him on a Facebook tribute page said up by Mr Luke's brother Cliff said he had helped his gay son when he was forced to leave Northern Ireland.
Another revealed he had been subjected to vile abuse at an Apprentice Boys parade in Londonderry. He said Mr Luke was a "kind caring Christian" who offered him gave him "words of solace and comfort" and "an open phone line day or night" should he need it.