Former DUP MP Iris Robinson, who spat hateful words about gay people, has inspired an opera with her homophobia. Ian Paisley’s anti-gay comments will also be featured in the show, which is being put on as part of Belfast’s Outburst queer arts festival.
The show was written by Northern Ireland’s renowned gay composer Conor Mitchell, who has called it Abomination: The DUP In Concert.
Most of the music in the show is based on Robinson’s 2008 interview on the Nolan Show on Radio Ulster when her comments about homosexuality being an “abomination” sparked outrage in Northern Ireland, especially as they came after a gay man had been physically assaulted.
Although she condemned the homophobic attack, she still claimed that the idea of homosexuality made her feel “sick and nauseous.” The former MP infuriated people even further when she claimed that gay people could be “cured”.
“I have a lovely psychiatrist who works with me in my offices, trying to turn homosexuals away from what they are engaged in,” she said.
“I am happy to put any homosexual in touch with this gentleman,” she added.
Robinson later repeated her anti-gay sentiments in Parliament when she said, “There can be no viler act, apart from homosexuality and sodomy, than sexually abusing innocent children.”
She was then reported to the PSNI by LGBT+ groups and quit politics in 2009, saying that she suffered from mental illness.
Two years later, it was discovered that she was having an affair with 19 year-old Kirk McCambley.
Now, her hateful words have been subverted and put into music by Conor Mitchell.
He said, “I don’t want to be accused of putting words into her mouth. I want to take the words she used and muse on them musically and make a beautiful piece of music. They will be beautifully sung and I’m thinking about adding a religious choral work under the performances.”
“I want the audience to muse over words like ‘abomination’, ‘child abuser’ and ‘repugnant’. I want to show how music can reflect the horror of those words,” he added.
The composer intends to deliver an invitation to the opera to the DUP headquarters in Belfast, but it is not likely that they will be attending.
“This isn’t an exercise in DUP-bashing. After all, it was the DUP who put the words out there.
“I think it’s a very dangerous time. We are still very different in this part of the world from what is happening in the UK and in the South. We don’t have same-sex marriage and these people feel they can say these things in the public domain.
“So I think it’s right to discuss what the DUP are saying about me, especially when they are in Government with Theresa May. If I said the things about the DUP that they say about me, I would end up in court.”
Canadian soprano Rebecca Caine, who played the first Collette in Les Miserables, will play the part of Iris.
Abomination will be performed in Belfast on Saturday, November 17.
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