Turn the other cheek to Iris

After the PSNI’s decision not to prosecute her for hate crime you wouldn’t expect Iris to be contrite. When the row broke, she followed standard practice on all sides to squeeze the last ounce of victimhood out of the situation.
“I am defending the word of God. I think at the moment there is a witch hunt to curb or actually stop or prevent Christians speaking out and I make no apology for what I said because it’s the word of God. But at the same time I was very careful in saying that I have nothing against any homosexual. I love them; that is what the Lord tells me, to love the sinner and not the sin. And just as a murderer can be redeemed by the blood of Christ so can a homosexual.”

Interesting though that since the PSNI’ s statement, Iris herself has remained silent, certainly at the time of writing 24 hours later. It was left to a party statement to say she was expressing ” a personal view,” which I read an an attempt to close down the controversy. However the very idea of prosecution should never have arisen. This was a case of conscientious free speech, not incitement. Toleration should be indivisable. Behind the uproar of protest against her original remarks on the Nolan show lies a growing bedrock of acceptance of gay rights and a legal framework that endorses them. The old bigotry is far from dead but we have come a long way from Save Ulster from Sodomy. More and more, homophobia is on the defensive. Nevertheless we can expect lots of argie-bargey when the gay and lots of other rights come up in the latest consultation on the NI Human Rights Bill. For my part, I suspect the Bill as recommended is over – prescriptive but I look forward to an intelligent debate. If Iris’s comments set the level for the DUP’s contributions, I doubt if we’ll get one.

Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London