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Ulster University probe into academic's anti-gay rant on Facebook

Researcher brands homosexuality a 'bizarre fetish' in online debate on Ashers Bakery case

By Deborah McAleese

Published 09/04/2015

Dr Mark Gilfillan stressed the remarks were his own personal views made during a “very limited online conversation”
Dr Mark Gilfillan stressed the remarks were his own personal views made during a “very limited online conversation”

The Ulster University has publicly distanced itself from one of its academics after he launched a scathing attack on homosexuality.

Dr Mark Gilfillan is now under investigation by the university after he used his Facebook account to describe homosexuality as a "bizarre fetish that has resulted in 72% of new cases of HIV".

He also quoted from an article claiming to have found a "conclusive link" between homosexuality and "sexual predation targeting children".

In a clear bid to distance itself from Dr Gilfillan's comments the university said the views he expressed were "in no way supported by the university which prides itself on being inclusive and on welcoming staff and students of all backgrounds and beliefs."

A spokeswoman for the university added: "This individual was commenting in a solely personal capacity and not as a university representative... the university is currently investigating the matter."

Dr Gilfillan is a Research Associate in Irish Jewish History at the university. His main research area is British Jewish history in the late 19th and 20th centuries covering the social history of British Jewry, immigration issues and responses to the Jews.

According to his university profile he also has "strong interests in the Holocaust, the history of anti-Semitism, immigration and ethnicity in modern British history".

In an email to the Belfast Telegraph last night Dr Gilfillan said that his contract with the university had expired at the time he made his comments.

He added that the remarks he made were his own personal views and stressed they had been made during a "very limited online conversation with a handful of participants".

Dr Gilfillan made his comments during a public Facebook debate on the case of Ashers Bakery - the Christian-run business that refused to bake a cake promoting gay marriage because of their religious beliefs.

Outraged members of the gay community have described his views as "disturbing" and "deeply offensive".

He began his comments by stating: "God or no God, there's no such thing as homosexuality. Just a bizarre fetish that has resulted in 72% of new cases of HIV coming from the population group practicing this fetish even though they represent under 2% of the population at large."

He added that gay culture "includes being applauded by morons while gyrating half naked in the presence of children during their equally bizarre parades".

Dr Gilfillan then complained that "disgust" at homosexuality "is outlawed" and "called bigotry instead".

"Why can't one simply be disgusted by the practice, by hundreds of thousands of disease infected men, of a bizarre fetish, accompanied by a sick and oversexualised 'culture'?" he asked.

He also quoted from an article claiming to have found a "conclusive link" between homosexuality and "sexual predation targeting children".

"The only reason 'gays' are indulged in modern society is because we now worship minority status," he went on to state.

He then added; "These people, and their fate, are tragic. They deserve sympathy. I see no reason why they should be encouraged, however, or indulged in their belief that their parody of marriage is valid."

Dr Gilfillan was unavailable for comment when contacted by the Belfast Telegraph yesterday.

An online news and entertainment site that offers support to the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community described the academic's comments as "scathing and deeply offensive".

They accused him of posting "a profoundly disturbing, horrifically homophobic analysis of the gay community" and said his "unhealthy beliefs and prejudices" are "worrying considering he is currently in a position of influence within the university".

Profile

Dr Mark Gilfillan is a research associate in Irish Jewish History at the University of Ulster, where he graduated with a PhD in history in 2012. His main research area is British Jewish history in the late 19th and 20th centuries covering the social history of British Jewry, immigration issues and responses to the Jews. He also has strong interests in the Holocaust, the history of anti-Semitism, immigration and ethnicity in modern British history. Dr Gilfillan is also editor of the bulletin of the British Association for Jewish Studies.

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