If you really wanted to enrage the more conservative elements of Northern Ireland's Christian communities, it'd be hard to think of a more effective way than this. PA MacLochlainn, a Christian and gay rights activist, this week told BBC Radio Ulster he had reached the conclusion that Jesus was a homosexual: "I believe that a 33-year-old unmarried rabbi living in Israel, in the time that he was living and having a favourite friend among the apostles called John, was quite clearly a gay man," he said.
His comments were prompted by a row over a banner displayed at last weekend's Belfast Pride event, which read "Jesus was a fag". Inevitably the banner provoked outcry from certain elements in the religious community, in particular Ian Paisley's Free Presbyterian Church. The Church holds a yearly protest march against Belfast Pride, which it delightfully terms a "celebration of sodomy".
In the July/August issue of New Humanist Newton Emerson reported how Ulster's gay rights debate had taken on a surprisingly secular character. This latest row perhaps shows that the old religious conservatism is never too far from the surface.