Wednesday, 21 October 2015
Jim Wells, a Stormont MLA, has been vilified by many people since he told a gay couple back in April that children with gay parents might be abused. He also told a lesbian couple he disagreed with their lifestyle.
His remarks were clearly homophobic and were investigated by the Public Prosecution Service, who said last week he wouldn't be charged with any offence.
But a lot of people decided that having made such insulting comments, he was beyond the pale and should become a social pariah indefinitely.
This strikes me as shockingly mean and heartless, as for some time now his private life has been hell after his wife Grace suffered two devastating strokes, can't communicate with him and is barely aware of the outside world.
He has been intensely lonely and depressed and desperately misses the close relationship he had with his wife, the one person he shared every detail of his life with. He says the past six months have been the darkest of his life.
He has been deeply hurt after people he had known for four decades - and who he considered friends - stopped contacting him after the incidents in April.
"The phone went very silent for a while" he said. "I was maybe getting just two or three calls a day from a core group of people and I don't think I would have got through everything without their support. People I thought were friends stopped contacting me even to ask about Grace, and that was very difficult to cope with."
We all sometimes make stupid and ill-judged comments. But that shouldn't mean that people stop caring about us, stop sympathising with our personal misfortunes, and treat us like some kind of evil monster.
It's an undeserved punishment.
Pic: Jim Wells