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Current Affairs

Second complaint against MP accused of homophobia

Tony Grew June 9, 2008

The Police Service of Northern Ireland has received a second complaint about comments made by the wife of the First Minister.

Iris Robinson, who is an MP and member of the NI Assembly, said on Radio Ulster last Friday that homosexuality is disgusting, loathsome, nauseating, wicked and vile and claimed gay people can be “cured.”

On Friday Andrew Muir, the vice chair of Gay and Lesbian across Down, visited Bangor Police Station to report Mrs Iris Robinson MP for stirring up hatred and arousing fear as a result of her comments.

Now a member of the South Belfast District Policing Partnership has complained to police.

“People like Mrs Robinson need to learn that their comments have consequences,” John O’Doherty told the BBC.

A DUP colleague has defended her remarks.

“This is a country where people have freedom of speech,” said Jeffrey Donaldson, who is junior minister with responsibility for equality.

“If someone has made a complaint then the matter will be investigated, I don’t believe that Iris has broken any law so I don’t believe the police investigation will lead to anything.”

Mrs Robinson is married to Peter Robinson, who took office as the First Minister of Northern Ireland last Thursday.

She is MP for Strangford and the chair of the Northern Ireland Assembly’s health committee.

Speaking on The Nolan Show on Friday, she was asked to comment on a homophobic assault that took place in Newtownabbey.

Stephen Scott, 27, was attacked by a gang of youths on Wednesday and suffered head and leg injuries. The police are calling the incident homophobic in nature.

Mrs Robinson suggested that he should consider therapy to “cure” him of his homosexuality.

She condemned the attack on Mr Scott 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.”

Mrs Robinson turned down an invitation from gay rights group Rainbow Project to meet with gay and lesbian people and hear about their experiences and concerns.

“I do not need to put my hand into the fire to know I will get burned,” she commented.

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