Belfast Pride hits back at Iris Robinson
The odd feather boa-adorned Ian Paisley aside, Belfast's annual Gay Pride march does not usually feature large effigies of loyalist politicians. Saturday's parade through the city centre was festooned with revellers dressed as a most unlikely pin-up: Iris Robinson MP, wife of Peter Robinson, who recently succeeded Mr Paisley as leader of the Democratic Unionist party
Given her trenchantly anti-gay pronouncements, the paraders came to denounce her.
She has described homosexuality as "an abomination" and recommended that gays could be "turned around" with psychiatric help. Next she told a Westminster debate on sex offenders: "There can be no viler act, apart from homosexuality and sodomy, than sexually abusing innocent children." She then faced calls for her resignation as chair of the Northern Ireland Assembly's health committee.
Andy Thompson of Belfast Pride said at the march: "We are not calling for her to stand down as an MP or an MLA, that is up to the people of Strangford. But in terms of being in a position at the heart of government in Northern Ireland, she does have to go."
Members of the Free Presbyterian Church held at least two small protests around the parade but the afternoon passed off incident-free.
Three decades ago Mr Robinson himself played a prominent part in a DUP "Save Ulster from Sodomy" campaign, but strategies have shifted. The problem for Mr Robinson is that he has helped fashion the DUP into Northern Ireland's largest party by moving it towards the centre of unionism, displacing more moderate rivals.
Sinn Fein, generally supportive of the gay community, accused Mrs Robinson of an obsession with homosexuality, saying her comments were "deeply offensive to members of the gay community and their families".
Mrs Robinson recently admitted: "I recognise I'm not the brightest light in the chandelier when it comes to constitutional issues. I leave those to Peter."
DUP MP Iris Robinson is on holiday, but her recent controversial remarks about gays were the focus of much attention at the parade.
One cheeky float manned by a troupe of drag queens was nicknamed ‘Iris, Wicked Witch Of The North’, complete with a colourful caricature of her head!
One woman carried a poster, with the message ‘Jesus Loves Everyone’, in response to Mrs Robinson describing homosexuality as “an abomination”.
Parade participants were led by drag queen Titti Von Tramp (right) and a posse of feather boa-wearing, bare chested men.
The parade concluded with a Belfast Pride party at Custom House Square.