A Northern Ireland DUP Assembly Member has been reported to the Assembly Commission after he told children at a school that homosexuality is “an abomination”.
The complaint was made by schoolteacher and gay rights campaigner Stephen Birkett, who called on the Assembly to take steps against him.
“I thought it was disgraceful that he used that type of language to young people, some of whom would be vulnerable and I would like to see him reprimanded for it,” Mr Birkett said.
The former tutor said he believed in free speech, but that Councillor Buchanan’s remarks were offensive.
“We live in a democracy and people have a right to speak their views but they should also understand that there are vulnerable people out there.
“Tom Buchanan should guard his language and try and understand that there are many people who don’t think like him,” Mr Birkett continued.
Speaking to PinkNews, Mr Birkett said: “We have a major problem in NI in that the DUP is vehemently anti-gay and they get more votes than any other party so they are able to slow down and block the drive to equality for LGBT.
“As PinkNews founder Benjamin Cohen discovered when he went on the Nolan Show, there are people here who think that making homosexual activity legal was a mistake. The bizarre thing is that I never meet these attitudes personally and everyone I know is accepting and generous. When Tom Buchanan made his ‘abomination’ comment most of the pupils booed and hissed. However a small group from a school from a DUP stronghold cheered. Ironically, it is the children in that school, his own ‘side’ who will suffer if they are LGBT. Note he refers to people choosing to be homosexual! He hasn’t a clue!”
The discussion was held at the Westville Hotel in Enniskillen, County Fermanagh.
Mr Buchanan, a member of the Democratic Unionist Party, was asked to outline his views on homosexuality and equal marriage. He responded by saying that homosexuality “isn’t right” and is “an abomination”.
The Ulster Herald reports the majority of students voiced their disapproval at the comments – although some applauded.
Reacting to Mr Buchanan’s comments, retired schoolteacher and gay rights activist, Stephen Birkett, from Strabane, said: “People like this live in the dark ages. These sort of remarks to schoolchildren are stupid and annoying and obviously he (Buchanan) has no concept of what people are really like.”
Mr Buchanan belongs to the same political party as controversial Northern Ireland Health Minister Edwin Poots.
The senior DUP politician has repeatedly been in the headlines following his unsuccessful legal attempts to prevent civil partners and unmarried couples from adopting children in the province – along with maintaining the lifetime ban on gay men giving blood in Northern Ireland.
The DUP has repeatedly blocked efforts to legalise equal marriage in Northern Ireland.