New UUP MLA Adrian Cochrane-Watson banned gay couples from his B&B
An Ulster Unionist who once suggested that gay couples would not be welcome in his family's bed and breakfast is to become an Assembly member.
In 2006, Antrim councillor Adrian Cochrane-Watson banned gay couples from his B&B, saying his family's Christian views made it impossible for gay couples to stay there.
"I believe in total tolerance and have no problem with people doing what they want in the privacy of their own home," he said at the time.
"If I had a 40-room hotel I would have no difficulty with giving a gay couple a double room. But I have a family home with a 10-year-old daughter and it would be very awkward for me to have to explain to her what two men were doing in a double room." Yesterday, he said the controversy was all "in the past" as he prepared to take over the South Antrim Assembly seat vacated by Danny Kinahan, who was elected UUP MP in May.
Mr Cochrane-Watson said his views had cost him the Conservative/Ulster Unionist nomination for the 2010 general election, although he claimed were comments that were "misinterpreted". Yesterday, he said that "what happened in 2010 with the Conservatives is history as far as I'm concerned".
He added: "Gay marriage is a matter of conscience and within this party. That matter of conscience has to be respected."