Paisley Jnr 'should apologise' for alleged anti-gay words30/05/2007 - 16:13:46
A Minister in the Northern Ireland Executive was under pressure tonight to apologise for allegedly saying he was repulsed by gays and lesbians.
The Democratic Unionist Party’s Ian Paisley Jr has caused outrage with his apparent assessment that homosexuality damages society.
Sinn Féin representatives accused him of dangerous homophobia and demanded a complete withdrawal of the remarks.
The party is also understood to be examining whether Mr Paisley has breached his ministerial pledge of office.
Sinn Féin MLA Martina Anderson said: “Whatever about his personal beliefs, the fact is that he now has ministerial responsibility for this issue.
“Ian Paisley Jr should withdraw these comments and apologise.
“The fact is that comments such as this cause great harm and distress.
“They feed into the attitudes that fester and lead to homophobic violence.”
Mr Paisley, appointed a Junior Minister at Stormont, came under fire over comments in Hotpress magazine.
“I am, unsurprisingly, a straight person,” the North Antrim MLA is quoted as saying.
“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.
“That doesn’t mean to say that I hate them. I mean, I hate what they do.”
But Ms Anderson insisted that as a Junior Minister within the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister (OFMDFM) at Stormont with responsibility for equality he should not have made the remarks.
“OFMDFM has a responsibility to promote equality and protect the rights of everyone in our society regardless of religion, sex, race, disability or sexual orientation,” she added.
“This is the law; it is the statutory equality duty that rests on all Ministers in the Executive.”
Mr Paisley was tonight unavailable for comment.
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