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Gay activist vows to sue “gay cure” MP

Tony Grew June 13, 2008
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A man who successfully fought a Northern Ireland local council three years ago after it tried to ban civil partnership ceremonies has said he thinks he has a legal case against Iris Robinson.

The MP, who is also married to the province’s first minister, caused outrage last Friday when she said on Radio Ulster that homosexuality is disgusting, loathsome, nauseating, wicked and vile and claimed gay people can be “cured.”

Robert Toner, 23, told the Belfast Telegraph that he has engaged a solicitor to pursue a legal claim that his human rights have been breached.

The police in Northern Ireland have confirmed they are investigating a series of complaints against the fundamentalist Christian MP and MLA, who has refused to apologise.

“It is very, very hurtful to think that someone says I need psychiatric help because I am gay,” Mr Toner told the Telegraph.

“I have made a submission to the Equality Commission, I have sent a letter asking them to back our complaint.

“My solicitor is also looking into a possible breach of the Public Order Act , article 9, which deals with threatening behaviour and insulting words.”

The Northern Ireland Assembly’s Commissioner for Standards has been asked to investigate Mrs Robinson’s comments. She claims she was merely proclaiming the word of God and is the victim of a witch hunt.

Mr Toner was in the headlines in 2005 when he successfully fought Lisburn City Council’s decision to deny gay couples the right to hold their ceremonies in their wedding hall, the Cherry Room.

Local authorities are required to offer civil partnership registrations under the Civil Partnership but they are free to decide whether to offer facilities for ceremonies on their properties.

Dr Jesse Bering, Director of the Institute of Cognition and Culture in Belfast, has written an article about the Iris Robinson controversy for Psychology Today magazine. Click here to read it.

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