Irish Republican News · June 4, 2007
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Paisley Jr defends anti-gay views

Northern Executive junior minister Ian Paisley jnr has stood by controversial recent remarks denigrating homosexuality and has complained that criticism of the remarks amounted to an abuse of his freedom of expression.

Politicians and gay rights groups criticised Mr Paisley for his comments in the magazine Hot Press last week, where he said he was “pretty repulsed” by homosexuality. “I think it is wrong. I think that those people harm themselves and - without care about it - harm society... I mean, I hate what they do,” he said.

Mr Paisley has expressed strong anti-gay views previously, but he is now a Minister in the Office of First Minister and Deputy First Minister, with responsiblity for equality legislation, including full rights for gays and lesbians.

That equality responsibility was reinforced by a short statement from the office last week, which said it was “totally committed to promoting equality and human rights for all its citizens”.

The SDLP equality spokeswoman, Dolores Kelly, said the statement did not address any of the issues raised by the interview.

Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Equality and Human Rights, Foyle MLA Martina Anderson has said that she was disappointed but not surprised at the comments.

“Ian Paisley jnr as a junior minister in the Office of the First and Deputy First Minster (OFMDFM) with responsibility for equality should not have made these comments,” she said.

“Whatever about his personal beliefs the fact is that he now has ministerial responsibility for this issue.

“Ian Paisley jnr should withdraw these comments and apologise.

“The fact is that comments such as this cause great harm and distress. They feed into the attitudes the fester and lead to homophobic violence.”

But in a subsequent newspaper interview, Mr Paisley said he was entitled to express his personal opinion. “I was asked for my view. I do not think my answer was outrageous or offensive. If you look in the Oxford English Dictionary for the definition of repulsion, it is disgust. That is my personal opinion . . . and I was honest.”

He added: “Political correctness has gone mad and those people who preach tolerance have unleashed a wave of intolerance when it comes to me saying something which they do not like.”

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© 2007 Irish Republican News