A junior minister in the government of Northern Ireland has stood by his comments that gay people are repulsive.

Ian Paisley Jnr rejected calls for him to apologise. He is a junior minister in the Northern Ireland Executive, headed by his father Rev Ian Paisley.

“What is done is done, I’ve said those comments why should I try and hide what I’ve done,” Mr Paisley told the local politics programme Let’s Talk last night.

He pointed out that his statements were not against the law. Sinn Fein and SDLP members of the local Assembly have demanded an apology.

Mr Paisley, 41, told Hotpress magazine last month:

“I am pretty repulsed by gay and lesbianism. I think it is wrong. I think that those people harm themselves and – without caring about it – harm society.

“That doesn’t mean to say that I hate them. I mean, I hate what they do.”

There has been concern at Mr Paisley’s remarks because the Office of First Minister and Deputy First Minister, where he is a junior minister, is responsible for ensuring equality for gay people.

Mr Paisley Jnr is a member of the DUP representing Antrim North in the Northern Ireland Assembly.

He was appointed to the government job by his father, First Minister Ian Paisley Snr, in May.

Northern Ireland gay rights activist Andrew Muir pointed out that Mr Paisley’s comments could cause harm, despite his protestations that he does not hate gay people.

“Our research proves that 29% of young people have actually attempted suicide because of homophobia in society and I think these comments are very concerning.”