A Northern Irish politician has claimed that gay people lead a “lifestyle defined by sex”, and thinks gay sex is “obnoxious”.
The claim comes from Jim Allister of Traditional Unionist Voice, an ultra-conservative fringe party which is strongly opposed to LGBT rights.
Mr Allister took to the media to attack a PinkNews article, published three weeks ago. which had questioned why social media users dubbed Prince George the “unlikely gay icon of the year”.
In a statement published by several media outlets today, Mr Allister lashed out at PinkNews and insisted it was “grossly offensive” to call someone a gay icon.
He said: “To take an image of a little boy and to fantasise of him being an icon for a life defined by sex is outrageous and sick.”
The original article states: “This isn’t about his sexuality. As Madonna, Lady Gaga, the Babadook and yes, even Ariana Grande have shown, you don’t have to be gay or even have a defined sexuality to be an LGBT icon.”
Mr Allister’s attempted smear appears to be a retaliation to PinkNews coverage of his anti-LGBT stances.
PinkNews reported earlier this year that Mr Allister had allegedly offered a pact with the Democratic Unionist Party to help block equal marriage – overriding a majority of support for the measure in the Northern Ireland Assembly.
The politician, who opposed the decriminalisation of gay sex in the 1980s, had signalled that he would help the DUP employ a ‘petition of concern’ to hinder LGBT rights, explaining: “TUV is a party committed to traditional family values and will continue to resist attempts by the homosexual lobby to introduce the oxymoron which is same sex marriage to Northern Ireland.”
The TUV lawmaker opposed the decriminalisation of gay sex in the 1980s, and still refuses to say whether he still believed gay sex should be a crime.
Speaking in 2015 when asked if gay sex should be legal he refused to answer the question, adding: “In the 1980s I opposed the legislative change that was made [to legalise gay sex]… gay sex to me is an obnoxious thing.”
Last year, Mr Allister was the only MLA in Northern Ireland to vote against the extension of pardons to men with historical gay sex convictions.
He said: “The House in 2016, in its arrogance, thinks that it can take it upon itself to rewrite the law of 40 years ago
“It cannot, and it should not. The law was the law. If those who chose to break the law, knowing what the law was, paid a penalty, that was the law taking its course, whether they were homosexual or heterosexual.
“It is now so fashionable to jump on board the LGBT bandwagon that you simply abandon all principles and leave your beliefs outside the door.”
His long record of opposing LGBT rights was not referenced in the coverage of Mr Allister’s press release in the Belfast News Letter or Belfast Telegraph.
PinkNews CEO Benjamin Cohen said: “I’m surprised that Jim Allister is such an avid reader of PinkNews that he spotted a minor article from three three weeks ago to complain about today.
“Despite claiming to have written to me, I have not received any form of communication from Mr Allister, so I was surprised that he decided to issue a press release about a letter before actually having the courtesy to send it to the supposed recipient.”
He added: “At no point did PinkNews state that Prince George is a ‘gay icon’- the article merely reported on a large volume of social media posts saying that he was. The article also explored what it means to be a gay icon and referenced other ‘gay icons’ such as the pop singer Ariana Grande.
“Mr Allister also appeared to claim that being gay is a ‘life defined by sex;. This is an outrageous statement. I am gay and about to marry fiancé, something Mr Allister opposes, and I can certainly say that my life is not defined by sex.
“I am also surprised that the media reporting on this story does not mention in its report that Mr Allister is a politician who has strongly opposed LGBT rights for as long as he has been involved in politics.
“Mr Allister opposed the decriminalisation of homosexuality and was the only member of the Northern Irish Assembly to oppose pardons of gay men convicted of offences that would not be crimes today.
“Mr Allister is not an impartial commentator on this issue, he is a person with a long history of opposing the rights of LGBT people.”