A researcher at the University of Ulster has defended his anti-gay statements posted on Facebook last week as “largely factual” and has stated that he is “not bothered” if he is reported to the University because his contract has just expired.
Some of the comments made by Dr Gilfillan included references to studies that he claims have revealed a “conclusive link” between homosexuality and “sexual predation targeting children”, his belief that homosexuality was nothing more than a “bizarre fetish that has resulted in 72% of new HIV cases” that is “accompanied by a sick and over-sexualised culture”.
Numerous posts made by the researcher were quickly removed from the Facebook conversation where he initially posted his outburst but several “edited” versions have since reappeared.
In one message defending his comments made about a study quoting links between homosexuality and abuse he remarks “I categorised behaviour and trends, but made no attack on people in general or as a group- indeed I stated that if anything the 47% [of homosexuals] who are abuse victims were particularly deserving of sympathy”.
In response to the negative attention his comments were attracting Dr Gilfillan argues that “the only personal opinion expressed being that [he] was largely unsure whether [he] personally believed that homosexuality was a legitimate concept in the popular understanding of it.”
Dr Gilfillan added that his “strong evidence-backed reaction against treatment of the Ashers case” was removed after realising his post was being “perceived as ‘vile.’”
University staff have reportedly been inundated with complaints against the researcher. In a statement from the University of Ulster they have distanced themselves from the comments but confirmed that they will be investigating the issue further. The statement reads:
“The individual was commenting in a personal capacity and not as a representative of the University. The views expressed are in no way supported by the University. We are an inclusive university – and we welcome staff and students of all backgrounds and beliefs. We have taken note of the concerns and will be investigating this matter”
In a clear bid to distance itself from Dr Gilfillan’s comments the university said the views he expressed were “in no way supported by the university which prides itself on being inclusive and on welcoming staff and students of all backgrounds and beliefs.”
Many students have taken to social media to express their shock hurt at reading the comments from an educated and influential member of a top university. Several students added that they want the university to probe whether these evidently biased views could have influenced marking and grading of exam papers and essays.