A controversial Unionist politician has said she stands by her comparison of the sexual abuse of children to homosexual relationships.
Iris Robinson is the MP for Strangford, a member of the Northern Ireland Assembly and chair of the Assembly’s health committee.
She sparked outrage earlier this year when she offered to put gay men in touch with a psychiatrist who can make them straight.
Now it has emerged that during committee proceedings in the Commons last month, she told MPs:
“There can be no viler act, apart from homosexuality and sodomy, than sexually abusing innocent children.
“There must be sufficient confidence that the community has the best possible protection against such perverts.”
When contacted by the Belfast Telegraph, Mrs Robinson reiterated her views and said she was following Scriptures.
“Can you think of anything more vile than man and man or woman and woman and sexually abusing children?” she told the Telegraph.
“What I say I base on biblical pronouncements, based on God’s word. I am amazed that people are surprised when I quote from scriptures. It shows the churches either aren’t preaching God’s word or are watering it down.
“I cannot think of anything more sickening than a child being abused. It is comparable to the act of homosexuality. I think they are all comparable. I feel totally repulsed by both.”
Mrs Robinson told the Telegraph that she is “trying to reach out to people” as Christ instructed.
She then said that her comments were not made out of hate.
“We all have the opportunity to come to know the Lord Jesus Christ. Anything I say is out of love. I am not hate-mongering. I cannot leave my Christian values hanging at the door when I go into politics.
“I am speaking out more now because we are getting it more and more rammed down our throats that the minority views are more important than the majority views. I am not trying to alienate anyone. Anyone can come to me with any problems. I do not turn anyone away.”
Speaking on BBC Radio Ulster’s Nolan Show last month, Mrs Robinson was asked to comment on a homophobic assault that took place in Newtownabbey.
Stephen Scott, 27, was attacked by a gang of youths and suffered head and leg injuries. The police are calling the incident homophobic in nature.
Mrs Robinson suggested that he should consider therapy to “cure” him of his homosexuality.
She condemned the attack on Mr Scott but added:
“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.
“And I have met people who have turned around to become heterosexual.”
She also agreed that homosexuality is “disgusting, loathsome, nauseating, wicked and vile.”
Police in Northern Ireland are investigating whether Mrs Robinson has committed any offence, such as incitement to hatred, after a string of complaints about her radio interview.
Sinn Fein, who are in coalition government with the DUP, have condemned her.
Mrs Robinson’s assertion that she is “repulsed” by homosexuality recalls the comments of her DUP colleague and former minister Ian Paisley Jnr.
Paisley Jnr, who is the son and namesake of the former Democratic Unionist First Minister, told Hotpress magazine in May 2007 that lesbians and gay men harm society.
“I am, unsurprisingly, a straight person,” he said.
“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.”
His comments were heavily criticised by partners in the coalition government in Northern Ireland, including Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, who assured the gay community that Paisley Jnr was not speaking on behalf of the devolved administration.