Cleric slams mural calling for same-sex marriage in NI

A five-storey mural depicting a married lesbian couple has been painted on a city centre building in Belfast
A five-storey mural depicting a married lesbian couple has been painted on a city centre building in Belfast

Free Presbyterian cleric Rev David McIlveen has condemned a mural in Belfast which calls for same sex marriage in Northern Ireland.

Artist Joe Caslin said he hopes the mural - which depicts a married lesbian couple - will make people stop and think.

The five-storey piece has been painted on a gable wall at Hill Street in the Cathedral Quarter.

The work entitled ‘Love Wins’ shows two local women who married in the United States; they were unable to do so in Northern Ireland as it is the only region in the UK or Ireland where same-sex marriage is not legal.

The temporary biodegradable piece will disintegrate within a few months.

But retired Free Presbyterian minister Rev McIlveen slammed the mural, saying it is “unnatural from a biblical point of view” and that he finds it “unacceptable and of course reprehensible”.

He added: “I think it shows the low level of support for same-sex marriage when its supporters feel they have to develop tactics that are confrontational to members of the public.”

He strongly condemned the matter being brought to the streets in such a manner, which he did not believe is the correct forum for the debate.

“I think it is important that the debate is in the Assembly. Those of us opposed to same-sex marriage will hope the Assembly will continue to show its opposition to it.

“But even if the Assembly did pass the motion for same-sex marriage, it still won’t change the view of those of us that believe marriage is sacred and between a man and a woman.

“That will not change.”

Rev McIlveen previously won a lengthy court battle with the Advertising Standards Agency, which attempted to place restrictions on what adverts he might place in the press.

The issue arose after his church placed an advert in the News Letter condemning the Gay Pride parade.

Mr Caslin, who rose to prominence with his huge mural of two men embracing in Dublin ahead of last year’s historic referendum, said: “I’d love to see same-sex marriage legalised in Northern Ireland, that’s really the crux of it.”

In June last year up to 20,000 campaigners marched through Belfast demanding a change in the law. Although a slim majority of MLAs voted in favour of same-sex marriage when it was debated for a fifth time in November, the DUP vetoed the move with a petition of concern. Those opposed to gay marriage say civil partnerships are available, but two same-sex couples are challenging the law.