By Hilary White

BELFAST, July 1, 2009 ( – Iris Robinson, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) MP for Strangford, has been cleared in an internal Assembly investigation of her comments on the BBC that homosexual acts are sinful and that homosexual inclinations can be overcome with counselling. Belfast media reports that Northern Ireland Assembly ombudsman Tom Frawley has said the case does not “warrant any further action in terms of the [assembly] code.”

The row started last year when Mrs. Robinson, who has described herself as a “born again and again” Christian, told the BBC Radio Ulster's Stephen Nolan Show that homosexuals who so desired could benefit from counselling to discontinue the homosexual lifestyle. She said, “I have a very lovely psychiatrist who works with me in my offices and his Christian background is that he tries to help homosexuals – trying to turn away from what they are engaged in.”

“I'm happy to put any homosexual in touch with this gentleman and I have met people who have turned around and become heterosexuals,” she added.

In a report, leaked to the News Letter paper, to be presented to the Standards and Privileges Committee, Frawley said, “Much of the language that gave rise to the complaint was introduced to the discussion by the interviewer rather than by Mrs. Robinson.”

The report said that Robinson had been asked if she agreed with the dictionary definition of particular words and language that is used in the Bible in relation to homosexuality. Frawley's report quoted Mrs. Robinson, saying that she had made it clear in the interview that her comments had been “scriptural, and what I clarified it with was very very clear that my Christian belief teaches me that you love the sinner and hate the sin and that goes right across every type of sin.”

Robinson later defended her position that homosexual acts are sinful and destructive, but said that God can forgive anything. “Just as a murderer can be redeemed by the blood of Christ, so can a homosexual. … If anyone takes issue, they're taking issue with the word of God.”

“Effectively” Frawley's report said, “she was asked if she agreed with the dictionary definition of particular words and language that is used in the Bible in relation to homosexuality.”

Mrs. Robinson told the News Letter, “People know and understand that I was asked to make a comment on my religious beliefs and I did so. It was never my intention to cause hurt or offence to any person. The complaints that were levelled in my direction were quite clearly politically-motivated.”

In addition to the internal Assembly investigation, Robinson had been under police investigation for a possible charge of “hate crimes” after police received over 100 complaints about her “homophobic” comments. A police spokesman later said that they were satisfied that no offence had been committed.

Read related coverage:

Northern Ireland MP Investigated for “Homophobic” Remarks

Northern Irish Christian Politician Embattled for Voicing Christian Views on Homosexuality, Abortion


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