ABSTRACT

In 2008 Iris Robinson, a former Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) MLA and MP, made a series of statements about homosexuality live on BBC Radio Ulster which caused a widely publicised furore that resonated far beyond her Northern Ireland audience. Mrs Robinson, wife of the First Minister Peter Robinson, stated that she felt homosexuality was an ‘abomination’ and that it ‘nauseated’ her. She also suggested that homosexuals could be ‘cured’ with psychiatric treatment and promoted the services of a ‘very nice’ psychiatrist she knew who could help to ‘re-orientate’ homosexuals back to heterosexuality (Young 2008). She defended these statements by claiming that she believed it was the ‘duty of Government to uphold God’s law’ (Belfast Telegraph 18 July 2008). These assertions proved inflammatory to many regardless of their sexual orientation across Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK. It soon emerged however that this was not the first time Mrs Robinson had expressed her repulsion towards homosexuality. As well as having compared homosexuals to murderers (Henry 2008), Hansard transcripts released in the midst of the furore showed that Mrs Robinson had also declared that ‘there can be no viler act, apart from homosexuality and sodomy, than sexually abusing innocent children’ (Belfast Telegraph 21 July 2008). Homosexuality, she believed, was worse than paedophilia.