The Ulster Unionist party’s Foyle Spokesperson, Julia Kee, said today, Friday that she is shocked at DUP Deputy Mayor’s comments on homosexuality.
Ms Keetold the Londonderry Sentinel that she was compelled to take issue with comments by Castlederg DUP Councillor and Deputy Mayor of Derry and Strabane District Council, Thomas Kerrigan, in which he claimed that homosexuality could be cured by prayer.
Mr Kerrigan made the controversial comments in the wake of the historic vote on equal marriage at Stormont this week, which saw a majority of MLAs voting in favour of extending the same rights to all people, regardless of their sexuality.
Mr Kerrigan said he felt sorry for families who had to cope with someone who had strayed from Christian values.
He also blamed the decline in church attendances and the images on TV as having contributed to the normalisation of such behaviours.
Reacting to the DUP Councillor’s comments, Ms Kee said she had been “genuinely shocked” at his comments and she went on to call on people everywhere to show greater understanding and love with regard to homosexual relationships and same sex marriage.
“Possibly the most bizarre claim of Mr Kerrigan’s was the following: ‘People say you are born with this but I don’t believe that. You get into this and the same as with drink or smoking, you get hooked on it after the first time or second time’.
“He continued: ‘I would like to see something else happening so they could get a different style of life… they need to be changed’.
“This displays a breath-taking lack of understanding of so many issues. The notion that gay people ‘need to be changed’ because they are ‘addicted’ to something which is a ‘style of life’ is deeply offensive.
“Society needs to display a better understanding of LGBT issues. It is incumbent upon political representatives to take a lead. I fully agree with the comments of the Ulster Unionist Party Leader Mike Nesbitt at our Party Conference just two weeks ago.”
At the conference Mr Nesbitt told delegates that current thinking meant people were “on the wrong side of history” when it came to opinion and acceptance.
“I believe that we also need to think about the cold spot that is how we are perceived by members of the LGB&T community. What if it was your son? Your daughter? What would you want for them? What would you offer them? I hope the answer is unconditional love,” she said.