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article imageEuro MP slammed for remarks about 'turning' gay people straight

By Andrew John     Jan 17, 2011 in Lifestyle
A Conservative member of the European Parliament (MEP) is under fire today after he posted a question on Twitter about "turning" gay people straight.
Roger Helmer asked in his tweet: "Why is it OK for a surgeon to perform a sex-change operation, but not OK for a psychiatrist to try to 'turn' a consenting homosexual?"
Among his critics today are fellow Conservatives in the party’s gay group, LGBTory, according to the Pink Paper.
The paper quotes the group’s chairman, Matthew Sephton, as saying: "I have made contact with the leader of the Conservatives in the European Parliament and have urged him to take action. Words and sentiments such as these have no place in the modern Conservative Party."
The party, he said, had published an Equalities Manifesto at last May’s general election "and those words have already begun to turn into action with the widespread consultation on the future of civil partnerships and [Home Secretary] Theresa May’s announcement that historic convictions for consensual gay sex will be quashed.
"That is what the Conservative Party is doing on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) issues. Comments like those of Roger Helmer are unhelpful, unrepresentative of the Conservative Party and wrong."
It’s not the first time 66-year-old Helmer – who represents the English East Midlands – has got himself into hot water over homophobic remarks.
In 2009 he defended a Polish MEP against accusations of homophobia, and wrote in his blog that the word "homophobia" did not exist and was "merely a propaganda device."
Ben Summerskill, chief executive of the UK gay lobby group Stonewall, said at the time: “If Mr Helmer thinks that homophobia doesn’t exist in modern Britain, then perhaps he should be introduced to the families of Michael Causer [murdered in Liverpool] and Jody Dobrowski [murdered in London]. I suspect that their dignity in the face of the murders of their sons by homophobes might cause Mr Helmer to think again.”
However, Helmer said then that he was not claiming “that there is no discrimination, and that homosexuals do not suffer violence and prejudice from people because sadly, we all know that is not the case.” He said the word "homophobia" had "no meaning" because he had "never met anyone with an irrational fear of homosexuals” and claims that the term is a propagandist one.
After Helmer had accused the Catholic Church of being “systemically paedophile” over the scandal of priestly child abuse, Damien Thompson, a Daily Telegraph contributor who specialises in religion, said of Helmer last September: “I’d vaguely heard of Helmer as a leading Eurosceptic. Clearly he’s also a bigot. His Catholic constituents are deeply offended by his vile comments, and rightly so.”
More about Roger helmer, Mep, Member european parliament, Homophobia, Twitter
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