March 15, 2019 / 6:56 PM / 6 days ago

Exclusive: 'Game of Thrones' actor: 'crazy' that Northern Ireland has no gay marriage

BELFAST (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - “Game of Thrones” actor Kristian Nairn said on Friday it is “crazy” that same-sex marriage is still banned in his home of Northern Ireland yet legal in the rest of the United Kingdom.

“It confuses me why we always have to be that little step behind on social issues like this,” said Nairn, who is himself gay, in an exclusive interview with the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“It should be brought into line with the rest of the UK,” said the actor who played Hodor on the hit TV series, which returns for its final season on April 14.

The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), one of the most socially conservative in Europe, has repeatedly blocked gay marriage despite opinion polls in recent years showing a majority in Northern Ireland in favor.

Northern Ireland is governed separately on many issues from the rest of the United Kingdom, a legacy of the domestic conflict between Republican and Unionist groups over whether to unite with the Republic of Ireland to the south.

The British government, which legalized same-sex weddings in 2013, has refused to impose gay marriage on the region, with ministers in London stating it is a matter for Northern Ireland’s politicians to decide.

The region has been without a functioning government for more than two years, after a power-sharing agreement between the two sides collapsed.

Same-sex marriage was legalized in the Republic of Ireland following a referendum in 2015.

“It makes it hard to be an ambassador from here,” said Nairn, who was the resident DJ at LGBT+ nightclub Kremlin in Belfast for 16 years and used to perform as a drag queen called Revvlon.

“There’s a lot of very amazing things about Northern Ireland, but the gay rights issues are definitely not one of them.”

Nairn said LGBT+ matters have “to be talked about in schools”.

“It’s not as if we’re going anywhere,” the actor said. “We’re human beings and we’re no more, no less than anybody else.”

Nairn said he was happy that “Game of Thrones”, much of which was filmed in Northern Ireland, had featured gay characters such as Loras Tyrell.

“I was glad that he was represented as being a badass as well, and being one of the best warriors in the kingdom,” he said. “I was glad, actually, that gay sex was featured.”

The question of whether straight actors should play LGBT+ characters has caused controversy in Hollywood recently, with Rami Malek winning the Oscar for best actor this year for playing Queen front man Freddie Mercury.

“Acting is acting, to me,” Nairn said. “And in the same way I don’t mind a straight guy doing a respectful depiction of a gay person, I would like to play heterosexual people also.

“I don’t want to be limited by that and I don’t think they should be limited either.”

Reporting by Rachel Savage @rachelmsavage; Editing by Hugo Greenhalgh. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's and LGBT+ rights, human trafficking, property rights, and climate change. Visit news.trust.org

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