Tatchell says DUP MP should quit over remarks


A Northern Ireland MP who branded homosexuality an abomination should resign, a gay rights activist said tonight.

Peter Tatchell said Iris Robinson of the DUP would have faced calls for her head had she criticised any other minority in similar terms.

In June, Mrs Robinson said homosexuals could be "turned around" with psychiatric help. The Strangford MP has defended her assertions with her Christianity.

Mr Tatchell said: “There is no doubt that if Iris Robinson had made those remarks about the black or the Jewish community she would have been outed from public office and forced to resign.

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

“The fact that many are making excuses for people saying that her conscience or religion gives her an excuse for making these remarks I find unconscionable.”

Mr Tatchell earlier claimed King William of Orange had male lovers. Speaking before an event in Belfast tonight he called for politicians who disagreed with homosexuality to maintain silence.

“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 added. "That is something that Ian Paisley Jnr and Iris Robinson should remember.”

Mr Paisley, a former junior minister in the Northern Ireland Ministerial Executive, has said he was repulsed by homosexuality. Mrs Robinson is wife of Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson. She has condemned all attacks on the gay community.

Mr Tatchell, who lobbies internationally for full rights for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community, tonight delivered the Amnesty International Pride Lecture in Belfast.

“It is particularly hypocritical for unionist politicians to play the homophobic card when their hero William of Orange had male lovers,” he said.

He cited unconfirmed allegations that King William had sexual relationships with men. King William was married, but some academics have raised hackles by pointing to his promotion of young men to high office as evidence of bisexuality.

A DUP spokesman dismissed the allegation and accused Mr Tatchell of setting out to antagonise.
“This is the kind of deliberately offensive and provocative comment and shock tactics that he has used in the past,” he said.

But today Mr Tatchell targeted Mrs Robinson for heavy criticism ahead of his Belfast speech. “Iris Robinson claims homosexuality is not natural, yet same-sexual relations are found in every human society and every animal species, ” the Australian-born 56-year-old added.

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

Mr Paisley and other senior DUP figures have defended their right to express their moral opposition to homosexuality, while also maintaining their complete condemnation of homophobic violence.