The Deputy Mayor of Derry Thomas Kerrigan has refused to apologise for stating that gay people should turn to Christ to be healed.
The DUP councillor also said he had “no regrets” over the controversial comments made in the wake of the vote on equal marriage in the Assembly last week.
The Derg councillor had also commended his own party after it lodged a Petition of Concern and effectively killed off any chance of the first democratic vote in favour of extending the same rights to marry to all people becoming law.
Speaking to the ‘Journal’ yesterday, Colr. Kerrigan said he had nothing to apologise for, despite claiming gay people could be healed by turning to Christ and praying.
His comments sparked outrage from various quarters with Malachai O’Hara, the Centre Manager of the Rainbow Project in Derry branding the words “ill-informed nonsense” and “extremely damaging”.
Meanwhile SDLP Councillor Gerard Diver and Sinn Fein Councillor Paul Fleming have called on Colr. Kerrigan to withdraw his remarks.
Colr. Diver branded his comments “completely outdated and out of step with the views of most people in Derry and across the North”.
Colr. Fleming said: “Councillor Thomas Kerrigan should withdraw these offensive remarks and apologise for the offence they have caused.”
Colr. Kerrigan however remained unrepentant yesterday: “I can’t see me changing my mind. I am taking the Christian opinion of what prayer can do. That will not change.
“I have had a lot of comments supporting my viewpoint over the past number of days so I am convinced enough I am on the right track. I don’t think that turning people to prayer is a bad thing. It has done miracles in the past and is still doing miracles. I am sticking rigid and I have no regrets as to what I have said.”
He added that while “governments change laws, sometimes good laws, sometimes bad laws”, the word of Scripture has not been changed.
Last Friday Colr. Kerrigan claimed that there were young people who stray into gay or drug “lifestyles” because of an “emptiness” and then get deeper into it over time. He said: “There has been a fall away of the percentage of people entering churches and I believe that if people relied more on prayer it could cure a lot of these problems. Prayer can heal and the Lord himself was the healer - that is the only person we can rely on. The word of God tells me that as far as ‘the other’ is concerned, woman was made for man and the rib that was taken out of man was closest to his heart.”