Opposition to the decriminalisation of male homosexuality appealed to many across the community divide. However, the impetus to maintain gay sex as criminal was provided by the evangelically inspired and highly popular ‘Save Ulster from Sodomy!’ campaign. The ‘Save Ulster from Sodomy!’ campaign was started in the mid-1970s by the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and headed by its political and religious leader, Ian Paisley. The DUP started its campaign in response to the formation of the Northern Ireland Gay Rights Association (NIGRA) in 1975, and also to its mistrust of the Northern Ireland Office and the British Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, who had the absolute power to make law in Northern Ireland by orders in council. The fear was that decriminalisation of male homosexual acts would be imposed by left-wing Labour Secretaries of State for Northern Ireland, under pressure from gay rights lobbying groups in Great Britain and in Northern Ireland.
read the full essay over at Notches.