Monday, 9 June 2008

Gay cure

You'd think people would have got the message by now that homosexuality is not a disease to be cured but a sexual preference to be enjoyed.

But Northern Ireland Assembly member Iris Robinson* begs to differ. She thinks that with professional help gays can be "turned around" and steered away from "what they are engaged in".

She claims to know a number of people who have changed course and become heterosexuals.

Well, that would be news to many gays who know their preference is just what they are and isn't something that can be changed at will like a set of clothes.

If someone has "become" heterosexual the chances are that's what they were all along and they weren't gay in the first place.

But Mrs Robinson holds stubbornly to the idea that homosexuals have somehow drifted into a thoroughly unsatisfying activity and just need to be shown the error of their ways. With the help of the Good Lord of course.

Her attitude was discredited sometime in the 1950s when gays began to resist the conventional psychiatric dogma that homosexuality was a medical disorder and a mental illness.

Clearly the cultural change of heart has passed Iris by. She only listens to a higher, other-worldly source she regards as more reliable.

David McCartney from Northern Ireland's Rainbow Project says there is no evidence to support gays being "converted" and he was seeking a meeting with Mrs Robinson.

I somehow don't think he'll change her mind. Her opinions are not affected by such mundane considerations as everyday reality.

* Wife of Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson. Represents Ian Paisley's Democratic Unionist Party.

Responses so far

Her remarks have been referred to the police as incitement to hatred by Andrew Muir, gay activist and member of the Alliance Party, and John O'Doherty of the South Belfast District Policing Partnership. The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) has confirmed it is launching an investigation.

On Tuesday evening Martin McGuinness, Deputy First Minister, said her remarks were "harmful and distressing" to gay people and she should reflect on the impact her comments were having on the gay community.

The Northern Ireland Assembly's Commissioner for Standards has been urged to investigate her comments.

Stephen Scott, who was recently attacked by three gay-bashers, has called her remarks disgusting and
said she should resign.

Robert Toner, a gay Belfast man, is planning legal action against Mrs Robinson under the Public Order Act and has asked the Equality Commission to support him.

The online petition to the British Prime Minister protesting at her anti-gay remarks has now closed with 15,670 signatures (Aug 10).

See also: Jenny's take on the Mrs Robinson affair


  1. How oh how does someone end up being like that? It's pathetic. It sounds like she needs a new psychiatrist and quick. Very interesting post!

  2. Conor, you're right, she's the one who needs some serious therapy, and fast.

  3. I wonder how she would cope if one of her three children came home to say that they were Gay?

  4. Grannymar, good question. Perhaps she would cast them out to live in the wilderness.

  5. I think homophobia is a psychological disorder and she needs therapy....

  6. Spot on, Jenny. But she probably doesn't understand what homophobia means. She probably thinks it's a country in East Africa.

  7. Scarey that someone can have this point of view.
    Scarier that she can be a prominent public figure.
    Scariest that she is not alone!

  8. Quicky - Yes, you might expect it from some deranged bigot down the street, but the wife of the NI First Minister? Just suppose Gordon Brown's wife had said it!

  9. The problem is that people will listen and take heed. Quite right that the matter has been handed over for inciting hatred.

    It's an opinion that belongs in the late 1950's. Much like her hair, ha ha. See - humour in the face of adversity.

  10. Travelling - Too true, other people will think it's fine to have the same opinions. And the risk of gay-bashing increases.

  11. What she lacks in vision and leadership, she makes up for in pandering. What could be a better use of a politician's time than figuring out how to clamp down on a certain type of consensual relationship? How about almost anything? She probably thinks it will help the reelection prospects...

  12. Of all the issues, problems and institutions that the government needs to 'fix' over there and she focuses on 'curing' gays! Inconceivable. She'd be hauled in front of the courts, not a psychiatrist,here under our anti-vilification laws. Sometimes being over legislated has its benefits. Send her over to Mardis Gras in February, we'll cure her homosexuality!

  13. bugga I meant heterosexuality!

  14. Matt - Yes, I'm sure re-election has something to do with it. There must be plenty of God-fearing voters with similar views.

    Baino - Exactly. Is that really the most pressing issue facing NI? I think not. Actually our equal ops laws are some of the toughest in the world, in theory, but somehow when it comes to homophobia they're mysteriously inactive.

  15. It certainly incites hatred in me anyway.

    Of that hag.

  16. Xbox - She's just been interviewed again. This time she equates gays with murderers - one must love the murderer/gay even if one condemns what they do. Even bigger foot in mouth....

  17. This is where I start to wonder is it just a publicity stunt, pandering to the lowest common denominator.

    I suppose she'll make a few quid of telly and a book or two.

    Baffles me.

  18. This is by no means an analogy (gay = mutant) but remember the backward approach to the mutants in XMEN? There was this serum or something, inject and be "normal" again. I suppose we can apply this to all kinds of ignorance in the face of differences. Different is good, personal preferences have to be respected. I really began dislike the terms "normal" and "straight". And I actually have to tolerate the word "tolerance" it's such an ugly concept and it needs to be replaced with "understanding and embrace". It symbolises disliking something but putting up with it and it should never be used together with racism and discrimination of any kind.
    It is such a no big deal whose sexual preferences are what, as long as noone tries to force and impose their own preferences onto others.
    In the case of gay and straight, it seems that the "straight" tends to impose and force their own preferences onto others and that is the biggest idiocy I have ever seen. (that and the wars)
    There is only one thing that sucks about the gay thing; I had such a huge crush on a gay man (I still do) and I know I can never have him to myself in the romantic sense. You know how hard it is us women think to find a decent, lovely, generous, fun, caring man. Well, because a great majority of them are gay. :( D'oh.

  19. Interestingly, I have been approached by a couple of people in the past who wanted to have therapy to 'cure' their homosexual fantasies. Astounding!

    Oh dear, Mrs Robinson really is dillusional. Give her a month of intensive 'therapy' with me and I will 'convert' her to lesbianism/bisexuality or whatever. After, if you can turn people straight, you can also turn them gay. I want to see the homoerotic porn stash her hubby secretly stores on their home pc lol!

    I can just see the headlines in the tabloid press. "HullabaShokka outs Mrs R!" I wonder what she does with her own homosexual fantasies? Intriguing. Now there's a challenging client for an ambitious young therapist to get her teeth into. How do I get to meet her?

  20. Ooo!!!! Maybe she has been scarred by an incident of bumping into her husband's homoerotic porn stash, and she is taking that hurt out on public? It isn't that unlikely is it?
    Interesting line of thought Hullaballoo!

  21. Xbox - I think it's both. Yes, a publicity stunt to woo the voters but I think too she genuinely believes this nonsense. She is also hurting people who apply their religious beliefs in a more positive way and not in this hateful and offensive manner.

    Gayé - Indeed, tolerance is a poor substitute for genuine open-hearted acceptance. And if I had a pound for every time a woman asked "Why are all the decent men gay?", I'd be a rich man. Homoerotic porn stashes eh? Not so unlikely after all the stories we've heard about politicians' sexual secrets.

    Hulla - It's the classic therapy scenario isn't it, the person who probably privately yearns for what they profess to hate? As you say, the logic of her position is that it must be just as easy to switch the other way. Mrs R cruising the local lesbian bar in three months' time??

  22. Wow! I really shouldn't be shocked; that mentality exists here in the Southern part of the US, as well (although people usually prescribe God/church/prayer as the cure - another reason I think of myself as spiritual, but not religious). I don't understand why some people feel the need to try and "fix" everyone else...especially when they're probably the ones who are broken to begin with.

  23. Nicole - Well said, why do people who're imperfect themselves want to fix everyone else? Authoritarianism rears its ugly head everywhere.

  24. If a political leader was using 'scientific racism' to degrade people from the black community there would be public outcry and she would be forced to resign (or at least I hope she would!). Why is it that gay rights are protected under the same legislation as racial equality, but we are not just as outraged when those rights are being openly attacked by public servants?

    I am glad you posted on this, Nick. I hope she is forced to step down as she clearly picks and chooses who is entitled to rights and dignity - not someone we want informing healthcare decisions!

  25. FG, good question, why are anti-gay statements not jumped on as quickly as racist ones? Mainly I think because politicians guess that gays (and the general public) won't react so vociferously. Well, so far the Iris affair is proving them dramatically wrong! Picking and choosing she certainly is.

  26. I am completely shocked, shocked I say Nick, that she hasn't linked homosexuality with paedophilia like most of her ilk (keep the children safe from these pervs, etc).
    She could be like that mother I posted about who spewed the same kind of venom and it turns out her son was gay.
    I think when people get this extreme it is usually because "it" hits very close to home and they don't know how to deal with it.
    A pox of 10,000 camels on her house.

  27. www - You're right, it's surprising she didn't throw in paedophilia for good measure. Though she did link gays to murderers (love the sinner, not the sin) just in case you thought gays were relatively harmless.

  28. She should be made to resign at the very least. It just shows that those in power in NI are a bunch of religious zealots and that is a very scary prospect for our future.

    Now, I suppose she shall be espousing stoning to death for wearing a cloth made from two different yarns? I mean, it says that in the bible also.

  29. Muddy - Zealots is the key word. Nothing wrong with religion if it just means some helpful guidelines for living a good life. But when people take it to extremes and use it as a truncheon to beat people with it can get very nasty indeed.

  30. She's an ignorant bigoted hag.

  31. Medbh, that seems to be the general consensus. And so dim she seems to have no idea what all the fuss is about.

  32. The thing that astonishes me is that she hasn't been immediately sacked as any politician in Great Britain would be for saying this.

    Xbox I think has it in a nutshell: as another blogger pointed out, La Robinson has been on Nolan's show a lot lately, typically offering viewpoints that will reassure DUP voters that her husband's rule of the party will be just as bigoted and backward as Paisley's.

    (As an aside, now that he's retired I see Paisley regularly in the changing rooms of Esporta. I've never actually seen him progress from there to the gym or the pool. Last time he was sitting on the bench reading some documents, perhaps in a tragicomic simulacrum of his recently-departed active, powerful life. I suppose when you consider that he has recently lost his party, his church and his premiership, he's bound to be at a bit of a loss for what to do with himself. It's hard not to feel sorry for him - at least in a perverse way, the way you feel sorry for an Apprentice contestant whom you hated right up to the moment they got fired.)

    Nick, you say "that would be news to many gays who know their preference is just what they are and isn't something that can be changed at will like a set of clothes." True, but I think this misses the point a little. In some sense acknowledging this allows anti-liberals the get-out of "oh well, I suppose they can't help it/ it's not their fault." Really, we should be insistent that people can have sex with whomever they damn well please, of either sex, through choice or innate orientation, provided all is consensual and adult.

  33. Absolutely, John, how come she wasn't sacked straightaway? As for Ian P, he may not have vast power any more but I'm sure there are plenty of useful things he could still be doing. And I can't feel very sorry for someone who's done so much damage to Northern Ireland.

    Not sure the idea of a "given fact" of homosexuality is an anti-liberal get-out, any more than the fact of black skin. And the idea of choice can itself suggest that someone could "choose" to be heterosexual. But people are certainly entitled to whatever type of sexual activity suits them (with the obvious exceptions that harm other people).

  34. This is disgusting and quite barbaric. I had hoped that we were beyond such nonsense. People don't choose their brand of sexuality, and it's terribly wrong for anyone to be made wrong over it.

    Why don't we force blue-eyed people to become brown-eyed then? I'm sure that if they saw the error of their ways, they would be eager to change, even if it blinded them.

  35. Heart - Yes, as a brown-eyed person I've been worried about all those blue-eyes for a while. They're undermining the moral fabric of our society. But I'm sure Iris has got a solution.

  36. I found your blog, 'cos someone told me about a news item, concerning Iris Robinson's son. Apparently photos of him kissing another man have surfaced, the official position from Camp Robinson is that the 2 are friends and the kiss was the result of a bet.

    Anyway, this story was not carried by my newspaper and wanted to confirm my friend was telling the truth. The story has been credited by the Belfast Telegraph and other sources, although I still have not found the picture in question.

    I am willing to accept the official version of events might be true, for once. But I doubt it Iris' son is also a public figure and it sounds like a stupid bet. Made by a couple of adolesence school boys and not a grown man.

    It is sad that Iris' own son maybe gay, and feels unable to come out to her. Or stand up for his community.

    I came out to my prents about 2 years ago, I was 18 at the time and I terrified that they would disown me or something. But they accepted my news and told they would always love me, as long as I was happy. I love my parents dearly and have never regretted coming out to them. It saddens me that others are not as fortunate as I was.

    Nobody should have to live a life, that is not an accurate depiction of their personality, their hopes and dreams. Life should be lived the you as a person, want to live it, not lived the way someone else thinks you should.

    Society doesn't need protecting from the gay community, but the opposite of this is quite true. Between gay bashers, homophobes and hate-mongering politicans, we have more than enough to deal with.

    Persecution is wrong, murderers, drug-dealers and child abusers don't even have with this sort of persecution. These are the people, which society needs protection from. Leave me and others like me to:

    Drink where I want.
    See who I want.
    Have sex with whoever I want, as long as they are over 18 and want it too.

    And maybe.

    In later life, settle down after a Civil Partnership and look after my spouse and our dog/s.

    It's not a big request. Heterosexual people/couples get to do it all the time.

  37. Mikey - I hadn't heard about the kissing incident. Indeed, if he's gay it's terrible he doesn't feel able to openly acknowledge it. Glad you were able to come out to your parents and they were so accepting. All the lingering anti-gay prejudice is completely inexplicable. I can only hope it will gradually decline over time as people realise gayness is just a fact of life and a completely harmless one.

    Thanks for such a long and interesting comment.

  38. Wow - I was afraid of reading this, thinking all sorts of gay haters would crop up again, but no, thank f***ing god not one. It's about time that ALL ppl realise that sexual orientation is just that, a preference. Gays excisted just like lesbians or straights ever since the dawn of wo/man, and no one has the right to tell them whom to love or not. If anyone is sick in the head, than that's those who say gays or lesbians are. And I'm not even gay, or a man. I realise this post comes eight months late, and I doubt anyone might read or response to it, but even now again we have this 'gay cure' agenda rolling through the news. Utterly disgusting.

  39. Anonymous - Exactly, sexual orientation is just a personal preference, why do people get so worked up about it? What harm is it doing them? Fortunately the readers of my blog tend to be pro-gay, but I'm sure there are still plenty of gay-bashers out there.

  40. Given what she has been up to I think we should all give her a big moral compass with a huge arrow pointing to the magnetic North pole -LOL