An openly gay MEP has attacked a Northern Irish politician for claiming that gay people can be “cured” of the homosexuality.

Michael Cashman, who represents the West Midands, wrote to Iris Robinson condemning her comments.

“MPs should be representative of all citizens and work towards an inclusive and open society,” he wrote.

“I have to sadly admit that your comments do the contrary and encourage hatred and intolerance towards homosexual people.

“Also, too often children and teenagers suffer severe discrimination in their schools and families.”

Sean Morrin, a youth support worker for The Rainbow Project, spoke to PinkNews.co.uk in the wake of comments Mrs Robinson on BBC Radio Ulster last month.

“We have high rates of self harm and there has been a spate of youth suicide in Ireland recently,” he said.

“We know for a fact that some of these cases have been attributed to young people not being able to cope with being gay.”

The MP for Strangford, Mrs Robinson also represents the constituency in the Northern Ireland Assembly and is chair of the Assembly health committee.

Today the general secretary of the Trades Union Congress wrote to Mrs Robinson’s husband, First Minister of Northern Ireland Peter Robinson, and called her comments “particularly appalling.”

Speaking on BBC Radio Ulster, Mrs Robinson said:

“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.”

The DUP rejected Mr Cashman’s intervention as a stunt.

“If Mr Cashman was genuinely interested in hearing from Mrs Robinson, he would not have made the details of his correspondence available to the media,” a party spokesman told the BBC.

Peter Robinson assured the Northern Ireland Assembly that he is committed to equality.

“There is a legal obligation to ensure that no-one in our society is discriminated against,” he said at his first appearance at First Minister’s Questions in June.

“I have to say that even if there was no legal obligation I would be at the forefront defending anyone who was being discriminated against.

“And I know my colleague the member for Strangford would be alongside me in that.”

The Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister is tasked with ensuring equality for gay people in Northern Ireland.

Police are investigating whether Mrs Robinson has broken incitement laws.

She has since claimed that she is the victim of a “witch hunt” and claimed her words were twisted.