Jack Quann
Jack Quann

14.30 7 Jul 2020


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The head of Amnesty International Ireland says any LGBT person who steps into public life will 'encounter deeply homophobic slurs'.

Colm O'Gorman was reacting after the new Equality Minister Roderic O'Gorman released a statement, to clarify a story emerging about a photograph of him with LGBT activist Peter Tatchell - who made questionable comments in an interview.

Minister O’Gorman criticised online attacks against him 'rooted in homophobia, stoked by anonymous, far-right Twitter accounts'.

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But he said he would not have posed for a picture with Mr Tatchell had he known about the previously expressed views on consent.

Minister O'Gorman said he knew Mr Thatchell only as a gay rights activist, and met him only as part of the photocall.

Colm O'Gorman has told Lunchtime Live this is a much bigger issue.

"They reality is that if you're LGBT - if you're a gay man, a lesbian, a bi-sexual person or a transgender person - and if you dare to step into public life in any way to do work that you believe in, you will at some point very quickly begin to encounter deeply homophobic slurs.

"Many of which particularly try to present you as a danger to children, as a risk to public morals or public decency or the public good.

"And it is incessant, it never stops - I've had this in one form or another for about 25 years, since I first came forward to talk about my own experiences of rape and abuse at the hands of a Catholic priest, right through now to my work on the Eighth Amendment with Amnesty International.

"It was a constant focus of the kind of attacks that I experienced both online and offline.

"We do need to talk about it, we do need to call it out when it happens".

On claims suggesting he is an unfit parent, he said: "What we don't recognise often enough, Claire, is how that is always a significant undercurrent of these weasily suggestions that are put out into the public domain in various forms, and we saw that again with Roderic O'Gorman.

"We saw it with Katherine Zappone when she was appointed Minister for Children.

"In the run up the last general election, there was a very well-funded, orchestrated campaign pushing out a false website on social media from the usual far-right, homophobic actors suggesting that she was, again, a risk to children.

"That she was a witch, that she practiced witchcraft, that this was all part of her LGBT agenda - all this kind of stuff.

"Always there is this very explicit suggestion that if you're LGBT, you are a risk to children, you're dangerous.

"It's based on the notion somehow that's still put out there that we are deviant, perverted, perverse, questionable, immoral.

"I think wider society doesn't see it for what it is and call it out enough.

"And that means that very often, one finds oneself in a position where you're having to either respond to that or simply try and let it wash over you and ignore it.

"And the difficulty with ignoring it, which is generally what I've done... but the impact that has on people around me - on my family, on people who love me, on my kids, on my partner - is huge.

"People do not understand the kind of harm and distress that that kind of stuff causes - more often than not, not to its target, but to the people who love them, the people they care for".

Main image: Amnesty International Ireland Executive Director Colm O’Gorman on Dublin’s Moore Street in 2018 Picture by: RollingNews.ie

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Amnesty International Ireland Colm O’Gorman Homophobia Homophobic Slurs Ireland Katherine Zappone Lgbt Peter Tatchell Public Life Roderic O'Gorman

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