Resignation follows Robinson outburst

A controversy over comments by DUP MP Iris Robinson has led to the resignation of one of her advisors, a psychiatrist who Robinson claimed could “cure” homosexuals.

Dr Paul Miller, a part-time adviser to the MP, wife of DUP leader Peter Robinson, has decided he can no longer work for her after her comments.

Speaking on a radio programme last month, Mrs Robinson said Dr Miller “was working with a small number of gays who were trying to become straight”.

“I have a lovely psychiatrist who works with me in my offices - trying to turn homosexuals away from what they are engaged in,” she said.

“I’m happy to put any homosexual in touch with this gentleman.”

Mrs Robinson, whose husband is First Minister Peter Robinson, also publicly said she felt homosexuality was an “abomination” and later that she considered it “as bad as child sex abuse”.

The comments are currently being investigated by the PSNI under hate-crime legislation.

Dr Miller stood by the comments at the time and was reported as saying he believed that “no-one is born gay” and that it was “possible to change sexual orientation”.

After an initial storm of critical reaction, gay rights activists have said the outcry generated by the comments may have helped the position of homosexuals in the North, where homophoic attacks are a frequent occurrence.

Ian Paisley jnr also caused controversy last year by saying he was repulsed by gays. Mrs Robinson and senior DUP figures have long defended their right to denounce homosexuality.

But Sinn Féin minister Caitriona Ruane said Mrs Robinson’s comments were in breach of equality legislation.

“We all have our religious beliefs or some people don’t have religious beliefs,” Ms Ruane said.

“But we are all elected to an assembly and we abide by the laws and the equality laws.

“We have a duty under section 75 [of the Northern Ireland Act] to respect people’s rights and that includes people of a different sexual orientation,” she added.

VILLAGE RACISM

Meanwhile, a controversy has broken out over signs in south Belfast declaring “no foreigners”.

There has been a history of racist attacks in the loyalist Village area against foreign nationals.

South Belfast Alliance Assembly member Anna Lo condemned the latest sign erected by one landlord as “sickening”.

“To treat other human beings like that is simply appalling,” she said.

Landlords have said the signs are necessary because they cannot defend their properties from racist attacks.

But Sinn Féin’s Alex Maskey said the posting of a sign on a house in Donegall Road was unacceptable.

“New communities in Belfast play a valuable part in our city’s economic and social life, and bring with them cultural traditions and languages which add to the rich and diverse nature of the new Belfast.

“We welcome the new communities to Belfast and must do everything in our power to ensure that they receive equal treatment”.

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© 2008 Irish Republican News