The DUP MP Ian Paisley Jr was challenged on Question Time about his 2007 interview where he said that he was “repulsed” by gays and lesbians.
At the time he said: “I am, unsurprisingly, a straight person. 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.”
He added: “That doesn’t mean to say that I hate them. I mean, I hate what they do.”
Responding to a question by David Dimbleby, Mr Paisley said: “I am repulsed by many things.The actions, and not specificly the individuals. I am repulsed by people who are not homosexual as well sometimes.”
Asked why he didn’t support same-sex marriage, Mr Paisely said: “I believe that marriage is fundamentally about creating children, and who in turn to create society.
“I’ll be accused of being homophobic, almost as bad as being a racist, and everything else that’s nasty in the world.” He added that “Christians are scared off about expressing this sort of view.”
Mr Paisley claimed that he has received 3,000 pieces of communication against same-sex marriage and “five letters in opposition to it”. PinkNews assumes Mr Paisley meant that he received five letters in favour of same-sex marriage.
Peter Tatchell said he was “sorry and sad” that Mr Paisley had such “intolerant” views. In response, Mr Paisley said to Mr Tatchell: “You can get married today Peter, you just can’t get married to a man.”
Responding to Mr Paisley’s jibe, dormer Islamist turned turned anti-extremist campaigner Maajid Nawaz said to Mr Paisley “you’re yesterdays news” adding “what you just said in your spiel almost sounded like ‘I’m not racist but my best friend is black.” He said that Mr Paisley spoke “bigoted opinions”.
Vernon Coaker, the Labour Shadow Northern Ireland Secretary said: “I think people should be able to chose, if same-sex marriage is available in England, Wales and in Scotland, it should be available to people in Northern Ireland. What I’d say to the Northern Ireland executive is to allow this to happen. This is about love and equality before the law and people in Northern Ireland should have the same rights as everywhere else as everybody in the UK.”
Sinn Fein education minister John O’Dowd said: “If there is a couple in love who want to come together under the marriage banner, we should enable them to do that.”
Theresa Villiers, the Northern Ireland Secretary said:”The reason I voted for equal civil marriage is that I simply couldn’t justify denying access to that institution on the grounds of someone’s sexuality.”
A man in the audience who described himself as a “swivelled eyed loon”, said that same-sex marriage was the same as redefining a cat as a dog.