Thousands attended yesterday’s Gay Pride event in Belfast where DUP MP Iris Robinson, who is the wife of the first minister, was mocked.

She ‘appeared’ at the event in the guise of masks carried by Pride participants.

More than 4,000 people turned out despite poor weather conditions. Thousands more watched the parade.

A float titled the ‘Iris Mobile’ joined the procession along the Belfast streets with a giant papier-mâché image of Mrs Robinson.

Last week, she was reported to the police after she compared homosexuality to child abuse.

She told a House of Commons committee: “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.”

She previously said that gays could be turned straight with psychiatric help.

PA MagLochlainn, president of the Northern Ireland Gay Rights Association, told The Observer that it was due to Mrs Robinson that so many people attended the march:

“She has done us a favour because it has forced a lot of people to face up to the fact that homophobia still exists in Northern Ireland.

“‘Look how many have turned up today. The numbers are up because people want to show solidarity. She has helped the cause.”

The Alliance Party’s Gerry Lynch, who called for her to resign as chair of the Northern Ireland Assembly Health Committee, told the Press Association: “The silent majority have spoken loud and clear here today by attending in such huge numbers to support this parade.

“The majority of people want Northern Ireland to be a tolerant and equal society and not a society caught in a 17th century time warp.”

The Free Presbyterian church publish an advertisement yesterday entitled “Word Of God Against Sodomy”, reiterating its view that homosexuality was an abomination in the eyes of God. They held a number of small protests but there were no disturbances.

Parade organiser Andy Thompson told the Press Association: “In terms of being in a position at the heart of government in Northern Ireland, she must go.”

Just days ago, gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell caused controversy after declaring that Unionist hero King William of Orange was gay.