An actor who plays a bisexual character in a TV soap for teenagers has spoken out against an MP at the centre of a homophobia row.
Gerard McCarthy, who is from Belfast, accused Iris Robinson of “helping to destroy lives.”
The DUP MP, who is married to the First Minister of Northern Ireland, has been criticised for speaking out against gay people.
During a BBC Radio Ulster interview in June the MP for Strangford offered to introduce gay men to a “Christian psychiatrist” who could make them heterosexual.
She has refused to modify her position that homosexuality is vile, wicked and an abomination, based on her Biblical beliefs.
During a June 17th House of Commons committee discussion on the assessment and management of sex offenders, Mrs Robinson said:
“There can be no viler act, apart from homosexuality, than sexually abusing innocent children.”
She claims that she meant that child abuse is worse than homosexuality.
Mr McCarthy, who plays Kris Fisher in Hollyoaks, told the Belfast Telegraph that he regularly receives letters from teenagers who are being bullied because they are gay, lesbian, bisexual or trans.
“There should be no place for hateful and extremist opinion,” he said.
“Moreover, to have a Member of Parliament advocate them must certainly be in violation of the MPs’ code of conduct.
“The wife of the First Minister should be forced to resign, made to give a formal apology and retract her comments in order to ensure that everyone is treated fairly and equally under the law.”
Mr McCarthy told the Telegraph he backs gay equality organisation Stonewall’s Education for All campaign, which fights homophobic bullying in schools.
“An estimated 2,725 young people call ChildLine each year because they are the victims of homophobic bullying and violence. Of these, 60% are children between the ages of 12 and 15,” he said.
Mr McCarthy’s comments about Mrs Robinson echo those of Northern Ireland’s only health project for gay and bisexual men.
Last month Rainbow Project said her comments were not only “beyond contempt” but will expose the gay community in Northern Ireland to continued “violence, abuse and harassment.”
“Political and religious leaders have publicly condemned the blatant homophobia and spoken about the levels of crime and harassment that the gay community faces here,” the group said.
“The thugs that perpetrate hate will readily lap up whatever encouragement that they can find.
“It does not take much to inspire the misguided to violence; and the hatred spouted by some will add more fuel to the fires of prejudice and bigotry.
“Mrs Robinson is playing with people’s lives; we hope and pray that the end result is not more prejudice, blighted lives or even bloodshed.”
The Strangford MP was mocked at last weekend’s Belfast Pride.
A float titled the ‘Iris Mobile’ joined the procession along the city’s streets with a giant papier-mâché image of Mrs Robinson and a sign saying “Wicked Witch of the North.”
She has been reported to the police by Andrew Muir, the vice chair of Gay and Lesbian across Down.
He said that Mrs Robinson has contravened the Article 9 of the Public Order (NI) Order 1987 by using threatening, abusive or insulting words which have the likelihood to stir up hatred and arouse fear.
“It is with great regret that I have felt it necessary to make another police statement concerning the MP for Strangford,” he told PinkNews.co.uk.
“Freedom of speech is important but people must respect rather than abuse this human right.
“I feel threatened, abused, insulted and fearful because Mrs Robinson compared homosexuality to child abuse which is illegal and, I believe, grossly offensive and fundamentally wrong.
“History is littered with examples of how people accused of child abuse have been treated by others.
“Only recently was an Edinburgh resident kicked unconscious because his attackers wrongly thought he was a paedophile.
“The father-of-two lost two pints of blood after a brutal attack by a gang of thugs.
“To align homosexuality with child abuse is both reprehensible and extremely
Mrs Robinson’s DUP colleagues have backed her, saying she is entitled to express her religious beliefs.
A party spokesman told the Belfast Telegraph:
“The DUP is committed to equality and fairness for all of our people. Our record shows that we are working to bring the maximum benefit of devolved government to everyone in Northern Ireland regardless of their background. Mrs Robinson was expressing her religious convictions.”