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Last Updated: Wednesday, 30 May 2007, 18:26 GMT 19:26 UK
Row over 'repulsive gays' comment
Ian Paisley Jnr
Ian Paisley Jnr has been criticised for his comments
A junior minister in the Northern Ireland Executive has been criticised for allegedly saying he was "repulsed" by homosexuals.

The Democratic Unionist Party's Ian Paisley Jr made the comment to Ireland's Hot Press magazine, but he said he did not hate homosexuals.

Sinn Fein has accused him of "dangerous homophobia" and demanded he apologise.

Martina Anderson said such comments could feed into the attitudes that "lead to homophobic violence".

"Whatever about his personal beliefs, the fact is that he now has ministerial responsibility for this issue," she said.

"Ian Paisley Jr should withdraw these comments and apologise."

Mr Paisley is quoted as saying: "I am pretty repulsed by gay and lesbianism. I think it is wrong.
That doesn't mean to say that I hate them - I mean, I hate what they do
Ian Paisley jnr

"I think that those people harm themselves and - without caring about it - harm society.

"That doesn't mean to say that I hate them. I mean, I hate what they do."

The SDLP's equality spokeswoman, Dolores Kelly, called on the assembly to censure Mr Paisley by tabling a motion with the Assembly's business office urging members to distance themselves from the remarks.

"Ian Paisley is a junior minister in the Office of the First and Deputy First Minister, the department which is charged with promoting equality and bringing forward the Single Equality Bill," she said.

"Vulnerable groups who are potential victims of discrimination should be able to look to him for help, not attack.

"If he cannot leave his extreme personal views outside his office, he must be kept away from any decisions which may be affected by those views."

Gay rights campaigner Andrew Muir said the comments were harmful.

"Our research proves that 29% of young people have actually attempted suicide because of homophobia in society and I think these comments are very concerning," he said.

The DUP said there was no suggestion Mr Paisley's comments were any form of discrimination.

Gay rights campaigners call for apology

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