McGuinness weighs into Robinson’s gay storm
Published 11/06/2008 | 08:00
Northern Ireland's deputy First Minister last night branded Iris Robinson's criticism of gay people harmful and distressing.
Martin McGuinness said First Minister Peter Robinson's wife should reflect on the impact her comments would have on the homosexual community.
Last week the Democratic Unionist Party leader's spouse branded homosexuality an abomination and suggested it could be solved by psychiatric treatment.
Mr McGuinness said: "While Iris Robinson is entitled to reflect her beliefs she also has a responsibility to act with due consideration.
"Comments that cause harm and distress to any section of our community are inappropriate and she should reflect fully on the impact that her comments will have."
Meanwhile new First Minister Mr Robinson defended his wife, who is a committed Christian, after her controversial comments.
He said he would defend anyone who was being discriminated against and his wife would be alongside him.
Sinn Fein has already called for Mrs Robinson to stand down as head of the Northern Ireland Assembly's health committee.
Mr McGuinness added: "Everyone has a responsibility to protect and promote the rights of all our citizens, regardless of sexual orientation. Sinn Fein will not be deflected in ensuring this legal responsibility is upheld.
He shares the Office of the First and Deputy First Minister with Mr Robinson. The department is responsible for promoting equality.
Yesterday, the DUP leader said he would protect minority rights in line with the duties of his office: "Can I further say I deplore totally any attacks that take place on individuals because of their religion, because of their politics or because of their way of life."
But Mrs Robinson later said she stood by her comments.
"I make no apology for what I said because it was the word of God... Just as a murderer can be redeemed by the blood of Christ, so can a homosexual," she said.
Mr Robinson yesterday announced a reshuffle of his ministerial and committee team.
His wife will remain as chairwoman of the Stormont health committee despite demands from Sinn Fein Assembly member Martina Anderson for her to be removed.