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Gay dad sets his sights on Peter Robinson - and wants meeting with DUP leader over equal rights

By Ali Gordon

Published 11/05/2015

George Clarke with his husband Kenny, daughter Tobyn and son Leo pictured at their wedding at Knockninny Country House and Marina last summer
George Clarke with his husband Kenny, daughter Tobyn and son Leo pictured at their wedding at Knockninny Country House and Marina last summer
George Clarke with his husband Kenny, daughter: Tobyn and son Leo pictured at their wedding at Knockninny Country House and Marina last summer
George Clarke with his husband Kenny, daughter: Tobyn and son Leo pictured at their wedding at Knockninny Country House and Marina last summer

Gay dad George Clarke has received messages from around the world supporting his quest for equal rights and he says he is now ready to challenge Peter Robinson.

Sunday Life revealed last week how the Newtownards man’s children had been brought to tears after the DUP leader had made comments on TV defending a party colleague who wanted homosexuality declared illegal.

“We have had such an amazing response online and every day there’s more stuff coming through from people across the world who support what we’re trying to do,” said George.

“The reaction has been at least 95 per cent positive. We’ve had some haters on Facebook, but generally the reaction has been great. There are always going to be some trolls who have nothing better to do than to criticise our lifestyles,” added the film-maker who has two children, Leo and Tobyn, from a previous relationship.

Mr Robinson’s controversial remarks about homosexuals and the law were made on the BBC’s The View programme.

On the TV show, the First Minister defended Mid Ulster DUP councillor Paul McLean’s right to express the view that homosexuality should be declared illegal — although he stressed it was not party policy.

Questioned by host Mark Carruthers as to why his party member believed that gay people should be jailed, Mr Robinson said: “I don’t think he’s wanting to throw anyone in prison. I would hope that if it was illegal, people would obey the law.”

Peter Robinson’s comments came just a week after then-DUP Health Minister Jim Wells made a remark at a public meeting linking child abuse and gay relationships. Mr Wells quickly apologised for his remarks and quit his role as a minister a few days later.

Upon learning of Mr Robinson’s comments concerning homosexuality and the law, George’s kids, aged nine and 11, became fearful that their fathers would be sent to jail.

“Since the story came out last Sunday, we’ve had great support from American same-sex couples and families and a lot of people from here have got in touch which has been great.

“A few people online have criticised us for allowing the kids to know what’s being said by politicians, but they have both been really pleased about the whole thing,” he said.

George favours the proposal to have a referendum on same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland while the DUP has rejected the idea.

“After everything that’s happened, I’d love to meet Peter Robinson. I’ve sat opposite him in many other meetings for my job when we were in discussions over a potential film we wanted to make, but I’d like to ask him on a personal level what’s his party’s issue with same-sex couples.”

The Alliance Party’s Naomi Long may have lost her seat in East Belfast, but George has commended what, as a Christian, she has done for the LGBT community.

“Naomi sent me a message saying that what I’d done by speaking out about our experience had been more powerful than anything she could have imagined.

“I met with her too the other day and she was very kind with her words. It’s good to see that some politicians are so tolerant.”

Read more:

Peter Robinson's remarks leave children of Co Down gay couple fearful of jail sentence for dads  

Gay marriage vote exposes deep divisions within Northern Ireland parties  

Gay marriage rejected by Northern Ireland Stormont Assembly  

DUP minister Jim Wells quits after gay abuse comments controversy

David Cameron: I will never validate the DUP's stance on gay rights and LGBT issues

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