A psychiatrist in Northern Ireland has defended his practice of treating men for unwanted same-sex attraction.

Dr Paul Miller was thrust into the limelight when his fellow fundamentalist Christian Iris Robinson offered to put gay men in touch with him.

Mrs Robinson, an MP and MLA who is married to Northern Ireland’s First Minister, gave an interview to BBC Radio Ulster last week in which she lambasted homosexuality and told listeners:

“I have a very lovely psychiatrist who works with me in my offices and his Christian background is that he tries to help homosexuals trying to turn away from what they are engaged in.

“I’m happy to put any homosexual in touch with this gentleman and I have met people who have turned around to become heterosexual.”

Her comments were criticised across the political spectrum and there were calls for her to stand down as chair of the Northern Ireland Assembly health committee.

Dr Miller, the “lovely psychiatrist” in question, is an adviser to Mrs Robinson on health matters.

In a comment piece in the Belfast News Letter published yesterday Dr Miller said that while he does not assume that homosexuality is a mental disorder, “we simply treat those who ask for help with unwanted same-sex attraction.”

He said he was being incorrectly portrayed as having an anti-gay bias.

“Gay activists and their allies stand accused by several eminent and respected clinicians of attempting to take away the patients’ right of self-determination – especially the right of the client to determine his or her own therapeutic goals,” he wrote.

“Recent research by secular professionals of international standing like Robert Spitzer and professionals who express a faith, like Stanton Jones and Mark Yarhouse, proves that change is possible.

“So despite what our detractors say, based on sound professional ethics, robust scientific research and clear results with our own clients, we are on very solid ground indeed when we say that we can help those people with unwanted same-sex attraction who wish to change.

“And we assert that anyone who says otherwise is clearly and factually incorrect.”

Professor Michael King of the Royal Society of Psychiatrists said last week:

“There is a lot of evidence going back 50 years to suggest that attempts to change people’s sexuality in either direction are not possible.

“Such treatments do not work and can actually cause quite a lot of harm. Homosexuality is a state and a sexual orientation and is not a question of behaviour.”

Dr Miller also claimed that the Royal College of Psychiatrists didn’t present “the whole story.”

“In fact the Royal College neglects to mention that unwanted homosexuality is still officially classed as a mental disorder,” he wrote.