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BBC Question Time: Gráinne Maguire Calls N Ireland's Gay Marriage Ban 'State Sanctioned Homophobia'

22/01/2016 09:03 GMT | Updated 22/01/2016 11:59 GMT

A comedian appearing on 'Question Time' dealt a bitter blow to Northern Irish conservatives last night, attacking the country's ban on same-sex marriage to rapturous applause.

Gráinne Maguire, a comedian and writer who appeared on the show last night, condemned politicians for enforcing "state sanctioned homophobia" by refusing to usher in changes to the law.

The devolved assembly in Northern Ireland had voted to legalise the policy shift back in November 2015, but was blocked by a coalition of parties, including the DUP.

An audience member hit out at the veto, asking to large agreement with others in the Belfast studio: "Isn’t it about time Northern Ireland moved with the times and legalised gay marriage?"

Dimbleby was left smiling wryly, interjecting the enthusiastic clapping to quip: "Hang on, hang on - if you all applaud we’ll have nothing to discuss if you all agree with him!"

Maguire delivered a blistering attack on the politicians who have left Northern Ireland the only nation out of step with the rest of the UK's same-sex marriage stance.

"I just can’t believe we’re still having this discussion," she deplored.

"Yesterday in Westminster, Tory MPs were discussing their use of poppers, yet in Northern Ireland we still have state-sanctioned homophobia. It's absolutely crazy."

The comedian was referring to a debate on proposals that would see 'psychoactive substances', including the legal drug poppers - used to make it easier for some people to have anal sex - banned.

Maguire continued, referencing her native country's recent legalising of same-sex marriage: "I am a proud Irish person but I have to think if you’re being out-liberalled by the Republic of Ireland on a social issue, you’ve got something to worry about."

"This is not something you want Northern Ireland to be famous for - you don’t wanna say: ‘Visit Northern Ireland, we’ve got Titanic, we’ve got amazing art and culture - and, we’re horrible to gay people.' It’s ridiculous."

She was rebutted by the DUP's deputy leader, Nigel Dodds, who claimed he was not homophobic for helping buckle the same-sex marriage bill passing in Northern Ireland's Assembly.

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"This is a very serious issue and it needs to be treated with respect," he said.

"I would be appalled with homophobia I think it’s wrong that anyone should describe being against the re-definition of marriage but being for the equal treatment of everybody as some kind of homophobia…"

He was harangued for saying "it is not the day-today subject that people talk about", Maguire quickly interrupting to remind him "if you're gay it is".