Belfast Telegraph

Monday 22 September 2014

Iris Robinson invited to Gay Pride event

Iris Robinson has been invited by members of the gay community to a public debate where she can explain her controversial remarks about homosexuality.

The Pride Talks Back event has been organised by Pride and is a debate on social, political and cultural life in the Northern Ireland gay and lesbian community with a panel consisting of local activists, politicians, clergy and the PSNI.

The debate will discuss areas such as mental and sexual health, religion and theology, policing and human rights.

Mrs Robinson has also been invited to this year’s Pride parade in Belfast.

A spokesman for the DUP said however that the First Minister’s wife is currently out of the country and will be unable to attend.

Mrs Robinson sparked controversy after stating in a parliamentary debate that homosexuality is “viler” than child sex abuse.

In a u-turn she told the Belfast Telegraph she meant homosexuality and child abuse were “comparable”, and later said her comments had been inaccurately transcribed in the record of a Grand Committee debate.

Hansard, which publishes transcripts of all public debates in UK government, said it was happy the transcription was accurate after reviewing tapes.

Andy Thompson, chairman of Pride, said the debate would have been a good opportunity for her to clarify her position.

“All of the other political parities in Northern Ireland will be represented during the debate on July 28. The DUP has never attended,” he said.

Mr Thompson added: “I think Iris Robinson should really be making an effort to attend. If she is genuine about being misrepresented in her remarks then this is a perfect opportunity for her to clarify that. This is the perfect opportunity for her to hear about the hurt and harm she is causing people.

“Young people across Northern Ireland are struggling with their sexuality and these sort of remarks are leaving vulnerable people like that feeling there is something seriously wrong with them. She is causing undue stress and harm to young gay and lesbian people.”

Mrs Robinson has said her remarks are based on scriptures and that she is not hate-mongering.

She also said she cannot leave her Christian beliefs at the door when she goes into politics.

The DUP has accused the media of unfairly harassing the Strangford MP.

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