Game of Thrones actor Kristian Nairn, known for playing Hodor in the HBO series, has criticised Northern Ireland’s gay rights record.
The actor, who was born in the city of Lisburn, criticised the enduring ban on same-sex marriage which sets Northern Ireland apart from the rest of the UK in an interview with the Thompson Reuters Foundation published on Saturday (March 16).
“It confuses me why we always have to be that little step behind on social issues like this,” he told the publication, calling for marriage equality to be legalised in Northern Ireland as it’s been in the rest of the UK since 2013.
“There’s a lot of very amazing things about Northern Ireland, but the gay rights issues are definitely not one of them.”
— Kristian Nairn
Same-sex couples in Northern Ireland can only enter civil partnerships. Recent surveys indicate widespread support for equal marriage both among citizens and in the Northern Ireland Assembly.
Despite several attempts by politicians in the House of Commons and the House of Lords to legislate in favour of marriage equality in Northern Ireland, the British government has repeatedly stated the issue should be decided in Northern Ireland.
The region’s legislative assembly however cannot sit as a power-sharing agreement between the two main parties DUP and Sinn Féin has yet two be reached, more than two years since the previous government collapsed.
Nairn, who identifies as gay, also said Northern Ireland’s negative record on gay rights makes it difficult to champion the region.
“It makes it hard to be an ambassador from here,” he said in the interview, adding: “There’s a lot of very amazing things about Northern Ireland, but the gay rights issues are definitely not one of them.”
Kristian Nairn and other Game of Thrones stars show support for LGBT+ rights
Nairn has previously expressed his support for marriage equality in Northern Ireland and his dismay at the present state of inequality, suggesting he may go into politics to help the LGBT+ community.
“I definitely would be prepared to make the change myself if it’s going to help my community and help other people,” he said in a 2017 interview with The Belfast Telegraph, adding: “I’ve thought about running for office for later in life, not for now. I definitely have something to say.”
Nairn isn’t the only Game of Thrones star who has spoken out in support of LGBT+ rights. Maisie Williams, who plays Arya Stark in the series, said in 2014 she wished same-sex marriage was legal everywhere.
In September, Game of Thrones actor Iwan Rheon—who plays the sadistic character Ramsay Bolton—criticised the council of his Welsh hometown Carmarthen for refusing to fly the rainbow flag in occasion of LGBT+ events.