Lesbian politician attacks Ian Paisley Jnr

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

The Speaker of New York City Council, Chrissie Quinn, has said that comments from junior Northern Ireland minister that he found gay people repulsive should never have been made.

During a five-day visit to Belfast Ms Quinn, is one of the most prominent lesbian politicians in the US, attacked Ian Paisley Jnr, who is the son and namesake of the Democratic Unionist First Minister.

He told Hotpress magazine in May that lesbians and gay men harm society.

Appointed a junior minister in the Office of First Minister and Deputy First Minister by his father, the department with responsibility for equality issues, he represents North Antrim in the Northern Ireland Assembly.

“I am, unsurprisingly, a straight person,” he said. “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.”

Ms Quinn, who boycotted the New York St Patrick’s Day parade last year because of its ban on gay participants, told the Andersonstown News:

“Statements like that shouldn’t be made. They are totally unhelpful and hurtful to people. It shouldn’t have been said.

“Sometimes when people say things like that they don’t realise the impact. Lots of people are affected, the people at the centre of the remarks, their family, their friends.

“Comments like that are personal and very painful.”

In September the Northern Ireland Assembly Ombudsman ruled that Mr Paisley Jnr did not break the code of conduct.

His comments were heavily criticised by partners in the coalition government in Northern Ireland, including Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, who assured the gay community that Paisley Jnr was not speaking on behalf of the devolved administration.

Despite calls for him apologise or resign, he defended his homophobia in a Radio 4 documentary, The House I Grew Up In, in which he claimed that his views were backed by the Bible, and he was entitled to express them.

Mr Paisley Jnr was nominated for the Stonewall Bigot of the Year award 2007 but lost to the Bishop of Hereford.