Deputy First Minister brands “gay cure” comments inappropriate
The row surrounding Unionist MP Iris Robinson’s comments that gays can be “cured” continues to rage four days after her notorious interview on BBC Radio Ulster.
The deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland has now commented, saying she has “a responsibility to act with due consideration.”
Martin McGuinness was reappointed to the role last week.
Mrs Robinson’s husband Peter, leader of the DUP, succeeded Ian Paisley as First Minister at the same time.
“Comments that cause harm and distress to any section of our community are inappropriate and she should reflect fully on the impact that her comments will have,” he said.
“Everyone has a responsibility to protect and promote the rights of all our citizens, regardless of sexual orientation. Sinn Fein will not be deflected in ensuring this legal responsibility is upheld.”
Mrs Robinson today claimed she is the victim of a “witch hunt” after police launched an investigation into whether she broke laws against incitement to hatred.”
Mr McGuinness’s Sinn Fein are in a coalition government with the DUP.
Because of the structure of the power-sharing executive, both the Sinn Fein and DUP ministers in the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister (OFMDFM) are responsible for equality.
Mr McGuinness has been a supporter of gay rights during his time as deputy First Minister.
He has met with gay groups to discuss homophobia in sport, the Northern Ireland administration’s sexual orientation strategy and the high suicide rates in the province.
Last year he launched Foyle Pride Week at Free Derry Corner in the province’s second city.
The DUP have a long history of opposing LGBT rights.
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In 1977, then-leader Ian Paisley launched the “Save Ulster From Sodomy” campaign in an attempt to prevent the decriminalisation of homosexuality in the province, which eventually happened in 1982.
Numerous DUP officials have been accused of homophobia, most recently Ian Paisley Jnr.
In May 2007 he told a magazine:
“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.
“That doesn’t mean to say that I hate them. I mean, I hate what they do.”
He has refused to apologise and remained in government as a junior OFMDFM minister but later resigned amid allegations of corruption.