The decision of a boyband to give its gay member a male love interest in their latest video has provoked comment from the somewhat unlikely source of an obscure Northern Ireland preacher.
Reverend David McCullough, minister of Dromore Reformed Presbyterian Church, turned his hand to video reviewing in the town’s local paper and gave a full account of the limited boy-on-boy action on show.
He expressed his concerns about the influence Boyzone’s latest video could have on the world’s youth.
“The latest Boyzone video that accompanies their newly-released single Better is far from good,” he wrote in the Dromore Leader.
“The romantic words and touching melody are accompanied by a video that features two young men staring into one another’s eyes, holding hands, caressing one another’s faces and at one point one man nuzzling his nose against the other man’s cheek.
“The video was the united decision of the group in support of band member Stephen Gately who ‘came out’ in 1999.
“The message of the Boyzone video is yet another subtle effort of the homosexual propaganda machine. This video, that will be watched by millions, is sending out a deadly message to young people.
“It is stating that homosexuality is simply another norm. The video very cleverly interweaves softly lighted, black and white images of heterosexual couples with a homosexual couple.
“The message is plain and the often repeated drum beating of the homosexual lobby that says that homosexuality is a normal lifestyle.
“The message from the God, who has made us, is very different.”
Various Presbyterian ministers have been at the forefront of criticism of gay people in Northern Ireland.
The Free Presbyterian Church was founded 56 years ago by Ian Paisley Snr, former First Minister of Northern Ireland.
It mounts a yearly counter-protest against Belfast Pride at the City Hall.
Last year veteran politician Paisley resigned as leader of the Church after coming under pressure from its members over gay rights issues.
The fundamentalist Christian sect were outraged that Mr Paisley and other members of his Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) ignored their objections to government financial support for Pride marches, which they called a “celebration of sodomy.”
In 2007 Free Presbyterian minister Ivan Foster told the Belfast Telegraph:
“If it turns out that financial support for a celebration of sodomy is sanctioned by a member or office bearer of the Free Presbyterian Church, then it will underscore the utter futility of the power sharing agreement that has been put together by the DUP and Sinn Fein.
“Far from the DUP elevating the morals of society, it seems that the DUP is going to come down to the level of morality that society demands.”
In the 1970s Paisley spearheaded a campaign against the decriminalisation of homosexuality in Northern Ireland, “Save Ulster From Sodomy,” and as recently as 2005 he led opposition to civil partnerships.
Since taking office in a joint administration with nationalist party Sinn Fein in May 2007 the DUP has muted their stance on gay rights.
His son, Ian Paisley Jnr, a former junior minister in the Northern Ireland executive, has been more vocal.
He has defied critics of his stance on homosexuality, telling a magazine earlier this year that he finds gay people repulsive and that they are harming to society.
He refused to apologise or resign but was later sacked when Peter Robinson took over as DUP leader and First Minister.
The most famous DUP gay opponent is new leader’s wife, Iris Robinson, who was voted Stonewall Bigot of the Year at an awards ceremony earlier this month.
The MP and MLA for Strangford and chair of the Northern Ireland Assembly health committee, she has been at the centre of controversy since June, when she said in a radio interview about a homophobic assault that the victim could be “cured” of his homosexuality.
She cited the work of her adviser, psychiatrist Dr Paul Miller, as an example.
She 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 am happy to put any homosexual in touch with this gentleman and I have met people who have turned around to become heterosexual.”
Dr Miller has since resigned as her adviser.
Mrs Robinson caused further uproar in July, when it 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.”
In July she claimed she is the victim of an anti-Christian witchunt, and later clarified her stance.
“Over the past few weeks, some people have attempted to suggest that I indicated that homosexuality is a mental-health issue, and they have twisted everything that was said on Stephen Nolan’s radio show,” she said in the Northern Ireland Assembly.
“I have got broad shoulders, and can take the brickbats that followed from that. However, nothing could be further from the truth. Homosexuality, like all sin, is an abomination.”