Iris Robinson: Gay lifestyle is abomination not a mental disorder
Stormont Health committee chair Iris Robinson last night accused her political rivals of twisting her comments on homosexuality and denied she believed it was a mental disorder.
The Strangford MP reiterated her claim that she considered gay sex a sin and an abomination but said it was not her opinion that it was a mental health issue.
The wife of First Minister Peter Robinson has faced calls to step down from her committee post after her comments on a radio talkshow last month.
After condemning a homophobic attack on a gay man in her constituency, Mrs Robinson had gone on to criticise the practice of homosexuality and claimed certain men who were confused about their orientation had chosen a heterosexual lifestyle after undergoing counselling.
Mrs Robinson yesterday attempted to clarify her position to the Assembly after Health Minister Michael McGimpsey explained that it was accepted within international psychiatric and psychotherapy circles that homosexuality was not a mental disorder.
Alliance North Down member Stephen Farry has asked the minister to confirm that homosexuality was biologically determined and not something that needed a cure.
Mrs Robinson said: "People have attempted to suggest that I indicated that homosexuality was a mental health issue. Nothing could be further from the truth. What I did say was homosexuality, like all sin, is an abomination. "
Mrs Robinson said while she did not believe it was a mental disorder, she claimed psychiatrists could have a role helping young people struggling with their sexual identity.
"Will the minister agree with me that there are some people who are in their teenage years sexually confused and that they could do with help in terms of practitioners assessing them with talking therapies to help them realise exactly what they are, whether they are heterosexual or homosexual?"
Mr McGimpsey said he was not in a position to talk about sexual confusion. The minister said people from gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender groups often experienced related mental health problems brought on by rejection.
He said it was essential that anyone seeking treatment from health care staff were treated in a non-judgmental fashion.
"Lesbian, gays and transgender groups experience high levels of discrimination and isolation and this leads to a higher than average incidence of suicidal behaviour and self harm and that is an issue that must be addressed," he said.