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WATCH: N. Ireland's Health Minister Regrets Antigay Rant, Quits Post

WATCH: N. Ireland's Health Minister Regrets Antigay Rant, Quits Post


Jim Wells will leave office to take care of his ill wife, Grace, May 11. He says he has already apologized for comments claiming kids raised by same-sex parents were more likely to be abused.

Northern Ireland's minister of health, Jim Wells, has resigned and apologized, saying he was factually wrong in claiming that children of same-sex parents were more likely to be abused than other children, reports Dublin-based news outlet RTE.

The comments that got the health minister in trouble last week were not only inaccurate but also harsh and direct: "The facts show you certainly don't bring a child up in a homosexual relationship," Wells said during a campaign event caught on video. When Wells said that children of same-sex parents were "more likely" to be "abused or neglected," the video captured an audible gasp from the audience gathered to hear him and other politicians speak.

In a statement to media, Wells confirmed that he will step down May 11, primarily to take care of his wife, Grace, who recently suffered two strokes. As his wife "now faces further challenges," Wells said, "I have come to the point where I am no longer able to continue my Ministerial duties and give Grace the attention she deserves."

He credited her support as essential to his political success -- up until the moment it all came tumbling down over his homophobic remarks.

"Having been my chief supporter throughout my career, my first duty will always be to look after Grace and my family," he said. The health minister noted his family's challenges as part of the narrative surrounding his resignation. "My focus will be on Grace and supporting my family. The events of the last week have taken place against the backdrop of a difficult period."

Wells did address his controversial remarks directly, offering an apology for the hurt he caused and an admission that his facts were wrong.

"On the issue of comments I have made which have attracted significant publicity, I have already said sorry for the offence caused and acknowledged that the comments were factually inaccurate," Wells said in his statement. "At no time did I set out to hurt or offend anyone and it has upset me greatly that the comments made have caused distress to some within our community."

Even members of Wells's own DUP party appear resigned to his resignation.

"I would have wanted it to be otherwise but I respect Jim's decision," First Minister and DUP member Peter Robinson told RTE. "However, he is right to put his family first and I will fully support his decision."

Members of the opposition party had already called for Wells to resign in the wake of his comments, with Sinn Fein's Maeve McLaughlin issuing a written statement indicating Wells had made the right decision. McLaughlin said Wells's role as health minister was "clearly untenable after his attack on the LGBT community, which was completely unacceptable from someone holding the position of health minister."

She added that people in Northern Ireland want a health minister who leaves their religion at the door and who supports marriage equality, blood donations from "gay men and adoption by gay couples."

Separately, police are investigating an allegation that Wells made offensive comments to the daughter of a lesbian while canvassing door-to-door for the upcoming election.

Watch the comments that got Wells in hot water below:

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Fellow Travelers & Jamie Lee Curtis

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Thom Senzee