Unionist politicians warned of consequences of homophobia

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Gay right activist Peter Tatchell’s visit to Belfast continues to generate headlines, with claims that Democratic Unionist politicians are contributing to a culture of homophobia.

Mr Tatchell delivered last night’s Amnesty International Pride Lecture as part of the city’s gay Pride festival.

His comments about Iris Robinson, King William III and homosexuality in nature, made before his lecture, have been picked up by local newspapers.

Mrs Robinson, the MP for Stangford, member of the Northern Ireland Assembly and wife of the First Minister, has been the focus of his most forthright remarks.

She has been widely criticised for suggesting gay men have therapy to become straight and likening the sexual abuse of children to homosexuality.

“There is no doubt that if Iris Robinson had made those remarks about the black or the Jewish community she would have been ousted from public office and forced to resign,” Mr Tatchell told journalists ahead of yesterday’s lecture.

“People would have said that such comments are totally unacceptable.

“Saying that her conscience or religion gives her an excuse for making these remarks I find unconscionable.”

Mrs Robinson’s homophobic outbursts were similar to comments a year ago from then-junior minister in the Northern Ireland executive Ian Paisley Jnr.

He said that he was repulsed by gay and lesbian people and that they harm society.

Mr Tatchell claimed that such a climate of disrespect for gay people encourages homophobes in society.

“Some of the people who hold these views are not merely prejudiced, they act out that by abusing people, by harrying gay people in the street and sometimes in violence,” he said.

“That is something that Ian Paisley and Iris Robinson should remember.

“It is very disturbing, the fact that senior Northern Irish politicians seem to think that the gay community is fair game.”

As PinkNews.co.uk reported yesterday, Mr Tatchell claimed that Protestant politicians such as Mrs Robinson and Mr Paisley are hypocrites because their hero, 17 century monarch William of Orange, was bisexual.

“Iris Robinson claims homosexuality is not natural, yet same-sexual relations are found in every human society and every animal species,” he said.

“That seems pretty natural to me.”