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Number 10′s response to homophobic remarks by Iris Robinson

August 14th, 2008

Dr Petra

You may remember a few weeks ago that Iris Robinson had made some pretty shocking statements about homosexuals – particularly that homosexuality was not only a sin, but a medical condition requiring a ‘cure’.

This perhaps would be bad enough from a politician, but even worse for one overseeing decisions about healthcare.

You can see that story along with a film clip and statements from Iris Robinson here.

After the story broke a petition was created calling for Iris Robinson to be reprimanded for her statements, and we’ve now heard back from the Prime Minister about it. Their response is below…

There is no constitutional role for the Prime Minister to reprimand individual Members of Parliament who are accountable to their electorate for their own comments.

The Government is committed to strong equality legislation in Northern Ireland and citizens in Northern Ireland are protected against discrimination on grounds of race, religious belief or political opinion, gender, sexual orientation, age or because of a disability. If anyone in Northern Ireland believes that they have been discriminated against on any of these grounds they may be able to bring a complaint to a tribunal or to a county court. Further details are available from the Equality Commission whose website is at www.equalityni.org.

In respect of sexual orientation specifically, the Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2003 make it unlawful for employers and others to discriminate on grounds of sexual orientation in the areas of employment, vocational training and further and higher education. The Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations (NI) 2006 extend the protection against discrimination to the provision of goods, facilities and services, the management and disposal of land or premises and the provision of education in schools.

In addition, section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998 requires designated public authorities to have due regard to the need to promote equality of opportunity between 9 different groups: religious belief; political opinion; race or ethnic group; age; marital status; sexual orientation; gender; disability; and persons with dependants.

The Government’s vision is an equal, inclusive society in Northern Ireland, where everyone is treated with respect and where opportunity for all remains a priority.

Uh, is that it? What a cop out! Iris Robinson made statements that went against all current evidence in healthcare while serving in a senior role on a healthcare committee. It is completely reasonable for the Prime Minister to take a firmer stand, rather than suggesting if individuals want to take things further they can. Listing all the ways we don’t discriminate people while doing nothing about discrimination is simply pathetic.

However, we’ve been told what to do. So if anyone does feel harmed by the statements made by Iris Robinson I suggest you do as is outlined in the response above and take the appropriate action. If I hear from anyone doing this or any organisations taking things further I’ll update you in a future blog.

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