Northern Ireland's only gay rugby team is promoting a form of sporting apartheid, Sports Minister Edwin Poots has claimed.
Mr Poots criticised Northern Ireland's only gay rugby team
Mr Poots said he could not understand the motivation behind the founding of the Belfast-based Ulster Titans.
"I just cannot fathom why people see the necessity to develop an apartheid in sport," he said.
However, one of the team's founders, Declan Lavery, said everyone was welcome to join the club.
"When the club was set up it welcomed members regardless of their age, creed, religion, sexual orientation or whatever, and that's how it continues," Mr Lavery said.
"Yes, it was primarily something established as a vehicle for gay people but that doesn't mean somebody who isn't gay can't join, everyone is welcome."
However, Mr Poots said: "It would be unacceptable to produce an all-black rugby team or an all-white team or an all-Chinese team.
"To me it's equally unacceptable to produce an all-homosexual rugby team and I find it remarkable that people who talk so much about inclusivity and about having an equal role in society would then go down the route of exclusion."