Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Iris to be Investigated for Hate Crime

Following on from yesterday's post regarding comments made by Iris Robinson MP MLA, Chair of the Northern Irish Assembly Health Committee and wife of First Minister Peter Robinson police are to investigate her comments under hate crime legislation.

Andrew Muir, the vice chair of Gay and Lesbian across Down (GLAD) lodged a complaint at Bangor police station on Friday evening. This has now been handed over to the South Belfast division of the NIPA for investigation. The police were initially reluctant to take Mr Muir's statement until he stated that his concerns were covered under the hate crime legislation.

While as I said yesterday she has every right to hold her opinions in private and while she has every right to base those her opinions on her own opinion, when she pushes those opinions in a public forum as a public figure she has crossed a line. While she is not the first politician to be hit by the hate crime legislation she is the most high profile elected representative thus far.

Scarily some more of the transcript of that interview doesn't give Mrs Robinson any room for manoeuvre.

Stephen Nolan: Do you think for example that homosexuality is disgusting?

Iris Robinson: Absolutely

Stephen Nolan: Do you think that homosexuality should be loathed?

Iris Robinson: Absolutely

Stephen Nolan: Do you think it is right for people to have a physical disgust towards homosexuality?

Iris Robinson: Absolutely

Stephen Nolan: Does it make you nauseous?

Iris Robinson: Yes

Stephen Nolan: Do you think that it is something that is shamefully wicked and vile?

Iris Robinson: Yes, of course it is, it’s an abomination.

Not the sort of comments that you would want from someone charged with scrutinising health policy, planning and spending.

Hat tip to Cosmodaddy


Jeff said...

I would have to say that this doesn't deserve a police enquiry. It's a political problem for her (and a sizeable one at that!).

She is perfectly entitled to hold these views as much as you or I may disagree with them.

I hope she isn't charged with anything, nor held for 42 days, but I do hope she learns when to bite her tongure next time.

Stephen Glenn said...

Problem is how does one define hate? She has said a vast number of people need pyschiatric help. Is that not demeaning?

The fact that someone representing a large number of the group that has been defined in this way has taken exception to being categorised in this way, is that not a definition of hate? The fact that she continued to dig herself deeper into it appears to have been part of the problem.

As I did not hear the Radio interview myself obviously I'm gauging it on things that I have picked up from transcripts ant others comments. Put it has been reported under current, active legislation.

Anonymous said...


I have some sympathy with Jeff's comments - it's never quite clear where you can draw the line between inciting hatred and freedom of speech.

There are a lot of views in the world I wildly disagree with - some for reasons that I find hateful, some simply because the approach they argue for is the wrong one. I would put Ms Robinson's comments in the former group.

Still I have some concerns about what seems to be a growing trend of politicians reporting each other to the police, especially when it's over a difference of opinions.

Ms Robinson's views are wrong in my opinion but she holds them and is probably not alone (although in a minority). Unless she was to take it a step forward by advocating some sort of violence I'm wary of censoring her.

I'm inclined to think that exposure of ridiculous views is the best way to overcome then. I would imagine that most people (not all I accept) would cringe on hearing Ms Robinson's views - that's surely a much more effective way of dealing with them that stopping them being aired in the first place.

Stephen Glenn said...

Yes IoC she can hold her religious views that homosexuality is wrong. I would allow her freedom to express such opinion.

It is her clarion call that all homosexuals should be 'cured' through pysciatric therapy that is the issue. In doing she her comments are sub-branding a whole trance of society, and these comments are what is covered under the hate crime legislation.

Especially when you consider two things, first her initial comments were in response to a homophobic attack on a 27 year old man, and her role is to adequately scrutinise health care provision, spending and policy for all people in Northern Ireland. For the first it was not required to answer and condone the action. For the second she appears to be suggesting a new health policy, or at least course of action, which medical and psychiatric practitioners have long condemned.

Linda Jack said...

It is difficult to know where to draw the line between freedom of speech and what should be regarded as a hate crime. And whilst it is difficult for some people to reconcile homosexuality with their faith, I would have thought it harder to reconcile such hateful comments about a fellow human being, with one's faith! However, if you replace the word homosexual in Stephen Nolan's interview with black....for example do you think black people should be loathed? - I think the answer becomes quite clear, such comments would be seen as inciting racial hatred - my understanding of the legislation is that it is rightly, just as tough on homophobia.

Jeff said...

I would say Linda that the important distinction is that the Bible does not condone homosexuality.

This may not make Iris' views any more palatable but it gives them a reasonable basis.

There is no such basis for racism within the bible and, consequently, is 'more' wrong.

It must be difficult for Ms Robinson to believe in God and the Bible, to be instructed to spread the 'Good News' (with that news including the denouncing of homosexuality) when you know there will be a massive backlash against you and will possibly cost you your job.

Between the 'rock and a hard place' of facing eternal hell or the wrath of some homosexuals, one can only conclude that Iris Robinson has made the right choice, given her options.

Stephen Glenn said...

Good point Linda, indeed the Bible does tell believers to hate the sin but love the sinner. As in Mrs Robinson's eyes that is the position she has clearly passed the first part but failed on the second.

Jeff, once again I will emphasise that Mrs Robinson would and should have the freedom to express her religious beliefs. However, the Bible does not state that homosexuality is a psyciatric disorder, that is the issue with which she is evoking her personal hatred. Especially as that statement has been scietifically disproven. Indeed some of the comments made by her favoured psychaitrist I think I would actually be a case study to disprove.

What she has done is gone beyond what her religion teaches, beyond what science teaches, and made a statement that makes a subsection of her constituents and society at large less than a perfect human. As Linda said that is also the case with racism, when you do not deem somebody without flaw as faulty, not equal, that is where the prejudice and hatred comes in.

With Northern Irish politics it is almost as if a new enemy is required, if this were an isolated incident from Mrs Robinson it may well have gone unnoticed.

Jeff said...

Given your quotes below Stephen I am appreciating more and more that she does infact have a case to answer.

"the Bible does not state that homosexuality is a psychiatric disorder, that is the issue with which she is evoking her personal hatred."

"What she has done is gone beyond what her religion teaches"

"the Bible does tell believers to hate the sin but love the sinner. As in Mrs Robinson's eyes that is the position she has clearly passed the first part but failed on the second."

Stephen Glenn said...

Thanks Jeff. As ever a pleasure debating with you. I believe the daily debate returns to your blog tomorrow. ;)

Jeff said...

damn, does that mean that i have to think about something clever to write about?

i suspect my thoughts on CCTV cameras and snooping on phone calls will have you suitably incensed... ;)


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