Honour for Maurice Mills sends out all wrong signals
The inclusion of Maurice Mills on the Queen's New Year Honours list not only sends the wrong signals to communities here, it is also deeply offensive.
2014 has been a year of tremendous progress for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning rights, equality and normalisation in England, Scotland and Wales. This progress has, unfortunately, not been matched in Northern Ireland, which is now the only part of the UK where same-sex marriage remains unlawful, and where most LGBTQ people still face routine discrimination resulting from an administration where the largest political party is against them.
Maurice Mills's claim that Hurricane Katrina was God's "warning to nations", where the "wickedness" of homosexuality is promoted and practised, is absurd. How anyone can claim to follow a merciful and compassionate religion whilst simultaneously implying that their deity would punish innocent people due to the alleged sins of a few is beyond me.
His blaming the spread of Aids in Africa on what he views as the "filthy practice of sodomy" isn't merely offensive, but in fact extremely dangerous, because of the ignorance and prejudice that it spreads within our society.
Aids is a killer. Its spread is not isolated to the LGBTQ community and there are many heterosexual people who have contracted it. The spread of HIV/AIDS isn't solely due to sexual activities - there are medical, educational, socio-economic and cultural practices that also contribute.
However, if we are to look at sexual practices specifically, then we must acknowledge that part of the problem is in fact religious opposition from Christian and Muslim groups which oppose campaigns that try to limit and reduce the spread of HIV/Aids.
Gary Spedding is a campaigner for LGBTQ rights