Edwin Poots - gay men blood ban, influenced by religion

Former Health Minister Edwin Poots' ban on gay men giving blood was influenced by his religious beliefs, the High Court has heard.

Lawyers for a gay man claimed comments by the DUP MLA show he wrongly allowed his Christian morals to impact on his stance.

Although a judge has already ruled Mr Poots' ban is irrational, the man who brought the original challenge, 'JR65', still wants a finding of apparent bias to be made. Mr Justice Treacy must rule on the point before an appeal launched by Mr Poots can be heard.

JR65's legal team want to introduce remarks Mr Poots made at Stormont while talking about the case. He was recorded as saying: "There is a continual battering of Christian principles, and I have to say this - shame on the courts for going down the route of constantly attacking Christian principles, Christian ethics and Christian morals, on which this society was based and which have given us a very good foundation."

David Scoffield QC, for JR65, said the comments showed a link between the gay blood ban and Mr Poots' religious convictions.

Mr Poots' lawyer said he made the decision purely on health grounds, even though it "might be consistent with some of the tenets of his religious convictions".

"But that does not justify a finding that there was apparent bias in the decision-making on the part of the minister," she said.

Judgment was reserved.