Alliance Party leader David Ford has said he is “still hurt” about having to give up his role as elder in his church because of his support for equal marriage.

He was part of the Second Donegore Presbyterian Church in Ballyclare, County Antrim but left his post voluntarily in 2013 after some members of the congregation expressed concern over his support for civil same-sex marriage.

He told the BBC’s Nolan Show it still “choked” him up three years later.

He said the issue was about “providing equality in the way that the public receives services from the state” and civil marriage was not a matter for churches.

“I have my own beliefs as a member of a church, as to how the church role fits in,” he said.

“But in terms of civil society, the services which are provided, I don’t believe that it is for those of us who are in the heterosexual majority to tell people who are in the homosexual minority that they’re not being discriminated against, when they feel that they are being discriminated against.”

“Walking into church on Sunday morning, in those circumstances, hurts,” he said.

“There aren’t tears but there’s a slight choke in my voice.”
He added his relationships with some people in his church were now damaged because of the issue.

He has led Alliance for 15 years and has been justice minister since 2010.