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Pressure grows on Ian junior as gay slur row refuses to fade

By Ben Lowry

Ian Paisley jnr was still unavailable for comment last night, amid ongoing controversy over his comments that he was "repulsed" by gay people.

The junior Stormont minister has been slammed by critics including Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness.

Mr Paisley told Dublin's Hot Press magazine that he did not hate homosexuals, but hated "what they do".

Mr McGuinness attacked his Executive colleague when he said: "Ian Paisley jnr wasn't speaking on behalf of the Office of the First and Deputy First Minister (OFDFM), he was speaking only for himself."

The Sinn Fein MP told the BBC: "Gay rights are enshrined in legislation and we as first and deputy first minister have a duty to uphold that."

He added: "The responsibility to deal with this is with the OFDFM, it lies primarily with Ian Paisley snr.

"I don't know what he's going to do, but I certainly think that we have a problem insofar as a junior minister in that department has expressed views which are a total contradiction of everything that the OFDFM is charged to do in terms of protecting the rights of all sorts of people within our society, including minorities."

Mr Paisley jnr was quoted as saying: "I am pretty repulsed by gay and lesbianism. I think it is wrong."

The North Antrim MLA added: "I think that those people harm themselves and - without caring about it - harm society."

Gay Rights activist PA Maglochlainn said he was "disappointed but not surprised" that Mr Paisley jnr should have "grown up so little" .

The president of the Northern Ireland Gay Rights Association added: "He is not just a private citizen entitled to his opinion. He is now a junior minister bound by collective responsibility.

"He should realise that silly words of his can cause untold grief especially to isolated youngsters in rural Northern Ireland, eg areas like North Antrim. We have far too many suicides in the gay and lesbian sector of the community. Ian's comments do nothing to help this."

Comment, Page 26

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