Page last updated at 15:21 GMT, Thursday, 10 July 2008 16:21 UK

'Eastenders' MEP in DUP gay row

Micheal Cashman in Eastenders
Michael Cashman was in Eastenders from 1986 until 1992

A former Eastenders TV star has accused the DUP MP Iris Robinson of encouraging "hatred and intolerance" with her recent comments about gay people.

Michael Cashman, who is now an MEP, told Mrs Robinson he was dismayed by her remarks last month that homosexuals should seek psychiatric help.

"It was with great dismay I learned that you have called homosexuality an abomination," he wrote in a letter.

A spokesman said the DUP was "committed to equality and opportunity for all".

"If Mr Cashman was genuinely interested in hearing from Mrs Robinson, he would not have made the details of his correspondence available to the media," added the spokesman.

The West Midlands Labour party representative's letter continued: "MPs should be representative of all citizens and work towards an inclusive and open society.

Iris Robinson
Iris Robinson said gay people should seek counselling

"I have to sadly admit that your comments do the contrary and encourage hatred and intolerance towards homosexual people. Also, too often children and teenagers suffer severe discrimination in their schools and families,'' he said.

Mr Cashman, who is gay and whose TV character was involved in the first gay kiss on UK television, said Mrs Robinson's comments "fuelled homophobia in our society and are an obstacle for young gays and lesbians to live a normal life".

Meanwhile, the TUC have also condemned Mrs Robinson's comments.

TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: "At its worst, such prejudice finds its expression in violent attacks on people for no reason other than their sexual identity.

"I find it particularly appalling that these public comments were made by a leading political figure on the occasion of another such crime."

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