Elton John ‘not surprised’ politician thought only gay people could contract HIV

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

Sir Elton John has blasted a politician who admitted he had no idea straight people could contract HIV.

Northern Ireland Assembly member Trevor Clarke made the remarks during a Stormont debate that called for a campaign to promote greater understanding of the virus.

Sir Elton, who has campaigned to tackle HIV and AIDS stigma for decades, was appearing on BBC show the Victoria Derbyshire show for World AIDS Day when he made the remarks.

Asked about the myths around HIV, Sir Elton said: “I’m not surprised

“A Northern Ireland politician said the other day he didn’t know that heterosexual people could get Aids, or HIV.

“So, it’s like: ‘What planet are you living on?’”

Sir Elton did not refer to Mr Clarke by name.

Mr Clarke made the admission in a Northern Ireland Assembly debate calling for a new HIV awareness campaign.

It was only thanks to the work of an awareness-raising charity that he learned of his mistake.

But the DUP representative didn’t stop there.

He went on to assert that an amendment highlighting the disproportionate effect of HIV on gay and bisexual men would create “stigma” for straight people with the virus.

Northern Ireland Assembly social media image

His remarks were dismissed as “ridiculous” by the MLA who raised the amendment, Eamonn McCann.

The MLA for Foyle went on to explain how he felt Clarke’s view showed “unconscious homophobia”.

Referring to the DUP’s failed campaign to prevent the decriminalisation of homosexuality in Northern Ireland, McCann asked the assembly “What’s wrong with sodomy anyway?”

He then said he would have kissed more men in his life if it “hadn’t been for the stubble problem”.

Appearing to concede his lack of knowledge on the subject, Clarke gave his backing to the education-promoting motion.

He was later praised the chief executive of Positive Life, that charity which had informed him of his mistake, for his “frank contribution to the debate”.

The DUP has a reputation for supporting anti-gay policies. Earlier this month the party blocked a motion calling for a public consultation on the introduction of same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland.