WATCH: Election candidate criticised for rape comment speaks out about being sexually assaulted

General election candidate Jonny Orr.
General election candidate Jonny Orr.

Lagan Valley general election candidate Jonny Orr has been praised for his “honesty” and “bravery” after openly speaking about how he was sexually abused in the past.

In a video statement posted on his Facebook page, the independent candidate revealed how he was “seriously sexually assaulted by a sportsperson” when he was “younger”.

The Lisburn man uploaded the video in response to criticism and abusive comments directed at him by Facebook users who were angry at an earlier post in which he likened the pain of his Crohn’s disease to being raped.

The controversy-causing post, in which Mr Orr confirmed his intention to stand in the Westminster election on June 8, said: “About this time last year I awoke one night to this feeling of being raped and a pain I cannot describe. It kept happening and I ended up with these regular fevers. The pain got worse and worse and I spent a lot of the past year on the toilet crippled in agony bleeding.

“During the last election I was finally diagnosed with Crohn’s disease but I finished with a promise - every election you will see a poster with the name Jonny Orr because of you. You’re my brothers and sisters and I love you. So... It’s official - chronically ill, broke but not giving up. Ever. I just handed my papers in and I’m now part of the General Election 2017.”

A number of people took exception to his use of language, with one branding his comparison “very offensive to victims of such a crime” and another describing it as “an insult to those who have been raped”.

Making his position clear: Jonny Orr posted the video on his Facebook page.

Making his position clear: Jonny Orr posted the video on his Facebook page.

Responding to the angry reaction from some Facebook users, Mr Orr replied: “Yesterday I was attacked for my announcement post. I wanted to convey the pain and severity of my illness and why I’m standing in an election I will lose. My words were accurate and from the heart. It’s clear if you look at my post the intent was positive and real.”

He posted a video statement refusing to apologise or reword his post, stressing that his critics do not know the pain of living with Crohn’s - a type of inflammatory bowel disease.

In the video Mr Orr states that he has “some relevant experience” about what he said.

“When I was younger a sportsperson used their position to take me away somewhere and seriously sexually assault me,” he explained. “My use of that word [rape] is accurate, relevant, and I understand it. Please don’t tell me what I can and can’t say.”

Hitting back at his critics and those who posted abusive messages on his Facebook page, Mr Orr added: “I’ll keep making videos and I can get more graphic and give you more description and we’ll see then, we’ll let the city decide who’s at fault, the guy that’s been sexually assaulted and is speaking up about it or the people attacking him and making assumptions about his life.”

His video has attracted dozens of supportive comments, with many praising his “bravery” and “honesty” in speaking out about such an awful personal experience.

One post said: “I’m sorry to hear your sad news on both your illness and history. You’ve strength and courage. Both will make sure you change this town’s path.” Another read: “I’m sorry to hear you went through that mate. You are clearly a strong person so fair play for using your strength in positive ways.”

Mr Orr is no stranger to election campaigns, having stood as a candidate on a number of occasions in the past.

He polled just 33 votes in the 2014 local government election, but secured more than 850 first preferences in this year’s Assembly election.

The Ulster Star tried to contact Mr Orr to discuss the issues raised in his Facebook posts, but he hadn’t responded at the time of publication.