The Public Prosecution Service for Northern Ireland has confirmed that it has received a request for prosecutorial advice from police investigating whether a local MP’s homophobic statements broke the law.
Two incidents have been reported to police.
Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph in June Iris Robinson, who is married to the First Minister of Northern Ireland and is chair of the local Assembly’s health committee, said:
“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.”
Gay rights activist Andrew Muir told police 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.
More than 100 complaints were lodged with police after Mrs Robinson refused to apologise for an interview on Radio Ulster in June when she claimed that homosexuality is disgusting, loathsome, nauseating, wicked and vile and that gay people can be “cured.”
Last month a spokesperson for the Police Service of Northern Ireland told PinkNews.co.uk that “inquiries are continuing” into whether Iris Robinson’s comments broke the law.
Today the PSNI confirmed that they have sought advice from the Public Prosecution Service, a normal procedure in complex cases.
The decision to consult the PPS does not necessarily mean there will be action taken against Mrs Robinson.
Speaking on The Nolan Show in June, Mrs Robinson, the MP and an MLA for Strangford, was asked to comment on a homophobic assault that took place in Newtownabbey.
Mrs Robinson suggested that there are therapies to “cure” people of homosexuality.
She condemned the attack 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.”
Her husband, First Minister Peter Robinson, stood by his wife.
In an interview with BBC Northern Ireland in October he said:
“It wasn’t Iris Robinson who determined that homosexuality was an abomination, it was the Almighty.
“This is the Scriptures and it is a strange world indeed where somebody on the one hand talks about equality, but won’t allow Christians to have the equality, the right to speak, the right to express their views.”
The Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister is tasked with ensuring equality for gay people in Northern Ireland.
In November Mrs Robinson was voted Bigot of the Year at the Stonewall Awards.