Edwin Poots has hit back at criticism of a contentious comment on Twitter, saying that children should not be icons of any sexuality.
Mr Poots was the subject of a complaint by Green Party MLA Clare Bailey who claimed he had linked the gay community to paedophilia.
His comment on Twitter came in support of Jim Allister who was incensed by an article in LGBTQ (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Queer/Questioning) publication Pink News which branded Prince George a ‘gay icon’.
Part of his tweet read: “making children an icon of sexuality today, pedophilia (SIC) tomorrow”.
This comment prompted a complaint by the Green Party MLA to the Assembly Commissioner for Standards and also led to a heated debate on today’s Stephen Nolan Radio Show on BBC Radio Ulster.
Neither Mr Poots nor a DUP representative took part in the show but later the party issued a statement from Mr Poots via its press office.
The former health minister said: “Clare Bailey’s complaint appears to be more about a headline rather than real concern for a Code of Conduct.
“I have made it clear that his tweet was not making the claims alleged in this spurious complaint.”
In a thread under the offending tweet Mr Poots had replied the following day in defence of his comments to say: “If a heterosexual man made a 4 year old girl an icon of heterosexuality I would be equally appalled. It is disgusting and wrong!”
Today he added another comment drawing attention to this response which read: “Interesting the biased Nolan Show didn’t quote this tweet.
“Children should be children, not icons of sexuality.”
In a scathing letter to the chief executive of Pink News earlier this month, Mr Allister expressed his “disgust” at the Prince George ‘gay icon’ article, branding it “outrageous and sick”. He said: “Sexualising a young child in this fashion is entirely inappropriate.”
Ms Bailey weighed into the argument this week by making a formal complaint about Mr Poots comments in support of Mr Allister.
She said: “To associate the LGBTQ community with paedophilia is grossly offensive and in my mind is a clear breach of the Assembly Code of Conduct.”