Belfast Telegraph

DUP 'gay cure’ councillor Thomas Kerrigan urged to stand down


The Deputy Mayor of Derry and Strabane is coming under intense pressure to withdraw his remarks suggesting that gay people could be ‘cured’ by turning to Christ.

DUP councillor Thomas Kerrigan made his controversial comments after his party blocked plans for legislation for same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland despite a majority of MLAs voting in support of it.

He said that young people who do not attend church services were leaving themselves open to lifestyles such as “being gay” or drink and drugs, but that if “people relied more on prayer it could cure a lot of these problems”.

Mr Kerrigan’s comments that someone could be ‘cured’ of being gay mirror those made by his party leader’s wife Iris Robinson in 2008, when she claimed that gays and lesbians could be “turned around” if they underwent psychiatric treatment.

Bebe Johnston, whose son Eamon held the title of Mr Gay Derry before he died by suicide, said she was deeply offended by Mr Kerrigan’s remarks and said he should step down as Deputy Mayor.

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Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, Mrs Johnston said: “To suggest that someone can be ‘cured’ is saying that if you are gay then you have some kind of illness, which is ridiculous.

“It actually makes my blood boil that people can still spout this kind of nonsense in this day and age.

“He certainly should not be in a position where he is supposed to represent everyone.

“My son was born gay, it was not a choice and not something that could be ‘cured’ and we loved him the way he was.

“I was immensely proud of Eamon and every thing he stood for and I am deeply saddened and highly offended by this councillor.”

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Despite several attempts to contact Mr Kerrigan, he was not available to defend his earlier remarks but Malachai O’Hara, Health and Wellbeing Manager with the Rainbow Project, said: “This isn’t the first time a member of the DUP has made these kind of comments, so it would be useful if the party clarified if this is the party policy.

“He needs to withdraw his remarks and apologise for the offensive they have caused.”

A DUP spokesman said: “Party members may hold personal views on this matter, but the DUP does not have any such policy nor have we any plans to adopt such a policy in the future.”

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