Iris Robinson slammed for offering gay ‘cure’
Northern Ireland's first lady, Iris Robinson, was last night at the centre of a new row after she said gay people needed psychiatric help.
The DUP MLA and MP sparked outrage among the homosexual community with the claim that gays and lesbians could be "turned around".
The Coalition on Sexual Orientation has angrily condemned Mrs Robinson's remarks and the Royal College of Psychiatrists refuted her claims.
Last week Mrs Robinson, a born again Christian, caused controversy when she described homosexuality as an "abomination" and yesterday she added further fuel to the fire with the offer of psychological assistance for gays.
She said: "I have a very lovely psychiatrist who works with me in my offices and his Christian background is that he tries to help homosexuals — trying to turn away from what they are engaged in.
"I'm happy to put any homosexual in touch with this gentleman and I have met people who have turned around and become heterosexuals. They are married and are having families. It does work."
Her comments come during a debate on the Stephen Nolan show on Radio Ulster which followed a homophobic attack on a man.
Stephen Scott (27) suffered head and leg injuries, fractured ribs and a broken wrist after he was kicked and punched by three youths while walking home in Newtownabbey on Wednesday night. Mrs Robinson condemned the brutal assault and strongly denied that her "abomination" remark could have in any way incited violence.
She added: "My Christian beliefs teach me that you love the sinner but hate the sin. But homosexuality is something that is an abomination.
"I stand up for moral issues and I will not be gagged because someone gets attacked. I condemn it wholeheartedly but that doesn't mean I don't have rights as a Christian to express my views."
Mairead McCafferty and James Knox, who co-chair the Coalition on Sexual Orientation, condemned the comments.
They said: "We are deeply concerned at these comments. We believe that the comments are at best damaging and at worst dangerous. Furthermore, they are completely unacceptable — indeed an abomination — in pursuance of an inclusive society based on values of dignity, respect and equality."
The Royal College of Psychiatrists also refuted Mrs Robinson's claims that being gay is a mental illness.