DESPITE believing that gay people harm society, Junior Minister Paisley Junior’s department is still giving the gay community £180,000. No doubt Rev Ivan Foster – who appears to have removed his article calling on another DUP minister to resign if he intends “using public funds to promote and celebrate that which he has opposed in the past and which is an abomination before God” – and the Free Ps will be more than a little perplexed that instead of saving Ulster from Sodomy, those ‘repulsed’ by it are obliged to strengthen the gay community.Meanwhile, Paisley gave the News Letter an exclusive interview (sadly not online), in which he defended himself by saying that “the opinions were given in a personal capacity in an interview arranged before he took up his role as a junior minister in the Executive”.
Despite attempting to portray this as a debate on freedom of speech (which it isn’t), the interview did not address the ‘harm’ that homosexuality does to gay people and society.
In yesterday’s Irish News Fergal Hallahan pondered:
“Are Scissor Sisters harmful? Rufus Wainwright? American novelist Henry James? The brilliant Irish writer Colm Toibin? Is Joan Armatrading harmful?
To say that a person or group of people repulses you when they have done you no injury and when there is no evidence they have injured anyone else is particularly ugly. It says more about the insecurities of the person doing the judging than about those they judge.
But for a public figure – a government minister, no less – to publicly say such a thing, to announce that they are “pretty repulsed” by homosexuals, is beyond the bounds of acceptability.”
Perhaps elaborating on homophobic views is more difficult once the ministerial code comes into effect. But the Belfast Telegraph still wants to know the DUP’s position on gay rights:
“Mr Paisley is in a unique position, as assistant to his father in the Office of First Minister and Deputy First Minister. The office has a responsibility for promoting and monitoring equality of opportunity, but how committed to defending homosexuals can he be, if he is repulsed by their lifestyle and thinks it is wrong?
As an influential junior minister, Mr Paisley has left himself open to doubt about his impartiality when dealing with issues of homophobia. Gays, like migrants, are frequently the target of physical and psychological attacks, which should be condemned by everyone, without exception.
The fact that the First Minister, Ian Paisley, led a campaign to “save Ulster from sodomy”, which failed to prevent British and European law on homosexuality being introduced, suggests that the DUP and its supporters may still be reluctant upholders of gay rights. The party and its leader have a duty, in 2007, to say where they stand now, or the views of Ian Paisley, jr, may be seen as representative.
It would be a great pity if the credibility of the devolved government were to suffer, in any way, from a split over attitudes to homosexuality. A debate on the issue could be healthy, if lessons were to be learned, but otherwise the voters simply want the executive members to get on with their real jobs, keeping their personal opinions to themselves.”