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Northern Irish Politician Wants to Ban Homosexuality

The evangelical Christian says she would “recriminalize” homosexuality were she to win, and claims that gay people are “out to recruit.”
Photo by VICE UK

This article originally appeared on VICE UK.

Plenty of politicians are weirded out by gay people. That UKIP councillor who blamed January’s floods on same-sex marriage, for example, presumably doesn’t have many gay friends. And if he does, I’d imagine conversation has been pretty stilted since he essentially blamed their sexuality for thousands of people losing their belongings to irreparable water damage.


That said, not many political candidates have the courage to run their entire campaign based purely on the homophobic ticket.

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Susan Anne White, however — who’s running for local council in Omagh, Northern Ireland — clearly doesn’t care about what’s expected of someone competing for public office. Speaking at a recent debate, she said: “My campaign will be run along the lines of ten Bible-based principles, and among them will be that we need to keep safe from the destructive homosexual agenda.”

The evangelical Christian says she would “recriminalize” homosexuality were she to win, and claims that gay people are “out to recruit” and that we’re all “in danger” of being perverted by their wanton ways. Weirdly, these comments haven’t gone down too well, both among the Northern Irish LGBT community and with other local politicians.

To find out exactly how their recruitment drive is going, I spoke to Terry McFarlane, director of the Northern Ireland Gay Rights Association (NIGRA).

VICE: Hi Terry. So how's the recruitment going? Are you managing to bring many straight people over to the gay community?
Terry McFarlane: We have many different people on our committee, both straight and gay, and we don’t believe we need to recruit, because most people see it as normal to be gay.

Okay. Do you think it’s strange that people, in 2014, still think that the gay community are trying to “recruit” straight people?
Not really — we've had enough cases over the last year or two that it isn't really surprising any more. There was the American pastor [Scott Lively] who went to Uganda, who's spoken out against homosexuality in many forms, and there was a film that came out recently that claimed the need to "change gays." It proves how horrific some of these campaigns are.


Does it worry you that people like Susan White are trying to spread this same idea in Northern Ireland?
No, I don’t think it’s worrying — people have the right to free speech. Susan White is standing for election and, in today’s society, that is her right.

Fair enough. Do you think she poses a threat?
Any person who stands has the possibility of being voted in. But, in all seriousness, I don’t think she has much of a chance of being voted in. In the past, she has said herself that her chances of being voted in are slim.

At least she's realistic. So she's made her statement to Northern Ireland's LGBT community – what would you say to her?
We are, as a society, inclusive. We are a multicultural society, and that encompasses all areas of sexuality. Therefore, I can’t see that going backwards in time, which is what she is suggesting, will happen. Her ten statements all include needing to "keep safe" from various things, including Darwinism. I don't think that indicates someone who is sensible in what they are suggesting.

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One of the other things she's been saying is that she doesn’t want gay people to be allowed to donate blood. What are your thoughts on that?
It’s the same sentiment that the local health minister — who has made a decision of his own — is saying. It goes against all the information that he has been provided with, especially when the rest of the UK has accepted it. What's even more hypocritical is that, over here, the Northern Ireland health service actually takes blood from parts of the UK — I don't think that's a very sensible situation.

You say that Susan White doesn't pose a serious threat – are there any homophobic politicians who you are legitimately worried about?
Not really, because over here in Northern Ireland we have a different system to the rest of the UK, whereby political parties can put a notice up to stop anything going through, as with the [recent rejection of] same-sex marriage. At the end of the day, they didn’t need to use it because they won by eight votes. But if they hadn’t won, they could have stopped it. We've got Sinn Féin at the moment, and they appear to working towards our same goals and objectives. We also have Unionists, who are working towards some of our aims and objectives.

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Do you think LGBT rights are improving in Northern Ireland?
LGBT rights have moved progressively forward over the past 40 years. NIGRA has been together for 39 years, and we've seen continual strives to move forward. Normally we're going forward, but occasionally we go back. What we want is equality for everyone — equality encompassing the right to live in safety, the right to have a full and loving life with whichever partner you choose and the right to bring up a family, as and when you want to.

Thanks, Terry.