What I wouldn’t give to be a fly on the wall in the Robinson household this evening. In case you haven’t been following Northern Ireland latest political developments, (what? you haven’t?), Peter Robinson is the new First Minister of Northern Ireland. Fair enough.
Interestingly, his wife – the fragrant Iris – is also an MP and is Chair of the Northern Ireland Assembly’s Health Committee. She has caused a bit of a storm (it’s all relative, this being Northern Ireland – nobody has been blown up… yet) by suggesting she knows a psychiatrist who can help gays “turn around” from their gay ways and become nice heterosexuals.
From the BBC:
Mrs Robinson made her comments on BBC Radio Ulster’s Nolan Show on Friday. She said she would defend her right to express religious beliefs, while also condemning violence against the gay community.
“I have a very lovely psychiatrist who works with me in my offices and his Christian background is that he tries to help homosexuals – trying to turn away from what they are engaged in,” she said.
“I’m happy to put any homosexual in touch with this gentleman and I have met people who have turned around and become heterosexuals.”
In a statement the Royal College of Psychiatrists said that homosexuality was not a psychiatric disorder.
Readers should understand Iris put forth these ideas in the context of a recent attack on a gay man in Northern Ireland. A literal case of adding insult to injury. Readers (particularly non-Europeans, dare I say non-Irish) should also realise Iris is a member of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), which was until recently led by the effervescent and energetic Dr. Ian Paisley, a man not known for his moderate views… on anything really. He called the Pope the “Anti-Christ” in the European Parliament, and launched a “Save Ulster from Sodomy” campaign in the 1970’s, in response to the threat (the horror!) of law reform in this area.
I note all this not to excuse Iris Robinson, but to put a little context around the situation. Northern Ireland is not what you’d call progressive and is indeed one of the few places in Western Europe that make the Republic of Ireland seem liberal and at ease with itself – I can say this (I think!) as I was born and raised in Dublin.
In all seriousness, Iris Robinson is in a position of authority and influence. She is also entitled to her views. I meekly suggest, however, that she should think twice before implying gay people need psychiatric help while discussing gay-bashing.