The police are understood to be actively investigating Northern Ireland MP, Iris Robinson, for expressing her religious beliefs about homosexuality on a BBC radio show.
Officers from the ‘serious crime branch’ of the Police Service of Northern Ireland will hold interviews about the incident which occurred in June.
As part of a BBC Radio Ulster debate, Mrs Robinson used the biblical word “abomination” to describe homosexual practice.
She also recommended that homosexuals seek counselling if they are struggling with unwanted same-sex attraction.
According to today’s Belfast Telegraph, police are investigating if the remarks contravened Article 9 of the Public Order (NI) Order 1987 by using threatening, abusive or insulting words which have the likelihood to stir up hatred and arouse fear.
When the incident hit the headlines in June, Mrs Robinson said: “I think at the moment there is a witch hunt to curb or actually stop or prevent Christians speaking out and I make no apology for what I said because it’s the word of God.”
Mrs Robinson pointed out that her criticism was directed at the practice of homosexuality, rather than homosexuals themselves.
“I was very careful in saying that I have nothing against any homosexual,” she said. “I love them; that is what the Lord tells me, to love the sinner and not the sin.”
Jeffrey Donaldson, DUP MP for Lagan Valley, said: “This is a country where people have freedom of speech.
“If someone has made a complaint then the matter will be investigated, I don’t believe that Iris has broken any law so I don’t believe the police investigation will lead to anything.”
This is not the first time that complaints to the police have been used to target those who express opposition to homosexual conduct.
In 2003 the Anglican Bishop of Chester was investigated by police because he gave an interview to his local paper pointing to research showing that some homosexuals had changed to heterosexuality.
In 2005 police questioned the family-values campaigner, Lynette Burrows, after she expressed the view on BBC Radio 5 Live that homosexual men may not be suitable for raising children.
In 2006 Sir Iqbal Sacranie, then head of the Muslim Council of Britain, was investigated by police after he said on BBC Radio 4′s PM Programme that the practice of homosexuality is not acceptable.
None of these investigations resulted in any charges.
In December 2006 Lancashire police settled out of court with a pensioner couple who had been investigated by officers because they criticised their local council’s ‘gay rights’ policy.
The police admitted their actions were wrong and changed their policies to take more account of religious liberty and free speech.