Seanad debates

Friday, 27 March 2015

An Bille um an gCeathrú Leasú is Tríocha ar an mBunreacht (Comhionannas Pósta) 2015: Céim an Choiste - Thirty-fourth Amendment of the Constitution (Marriage Equality) Bill 2015: Committee Stage


10:30 am

Photo of Jim WalshJim Walsh (Fianna Fail) | Oireachtas source

No, he is not and he is no longer CEO of Mozilla either. Why is that the case? It is because he happened to support the Proposition 8 movement in California - a very liberal state in the US - and gave $1,000 to support its cause of maintaining marriage as being between a man and a woman. Regardless of whether one agrees or disagrees with him, surely to goodness he was entitled to do as I have outlined. The list of those who subscribed and donated to the movement - I could provide the names of the many other individuals involved - was obtained and the individual to whom I refer was forced to resign his position as a result of the damage done by those who targeted his then employer. Last week, a business of which I have never heard before called Dolce and Gabbana - I may have pronounced the names wrong - made a pronouncement on its opposition to the definition of marriage being changed. Dolce and Gabbana, who are a gay couple and who cannot be accused of being homophobic, expressed their view. It is a perfectly legitimate view and it happens to be one which I hold. Everyone witnessed the litany of abuse directed at them and, indeed, the attempts to boycott their business. I do not think things of that nature should happen.

I agree with what Senator Zappone said with regard to people working. Individuals who are gay should not feel any fear. They should be respected and should enjoy equal opportunities in the context of their career prospects.. Those prospects should not be affected by their particular orientation. Most people in this country would fully accept that. We need to cut out the intolerance but we must also remember that there is intolerance on both sides. I am aware of the case of a lady, Sarah Mbuyi, who worked in Newpark Childcare in Shepherd's Bush, London, and who was dismissed last January when a colleague asked her about what the Bible teaches in respect of homosexuality. When Ms Mbuyi responded, her colleague became upset and complained to their employer. As a consequence, Ms Mbuyi was sacked.

The Minister referred to a hierarchy of rights. Such a hierarchy is already in place. Freedom of conscience is subsidiary to the other rights. There is also freedom of religion. There is an observatory in Austria which monitors and tabulates instances of discrimination against Christians throughout Europe. There is generally a long list of such instances. Some of them may be subtle or not that strong but they show a clear bias against Christians nonetheless. I do not accept the Minister's argument when people who have a conscience and who harbour a certain view are not respected, particularly in circumstances where the relevant services are available to others. As Senator Mullen stated, a situation arose in this Chamber - I thought it was an appalling episode - when we debated the civil partnership legislation. I tabled amendments with regard to freedom of conscience for people of religion and those who are members of the clerical state who would obviously come at matters from a religious perspective and in respect of whom major questions would not arise in the context of this being a conscience issue for them. All of the amendments in question were guillotined in order to facilitate, as Senator Mullen correctly pointed out, the members of the Green Party going out to the plinth in order to take part in a photocall for the "Six One News". These things happen and they do not register on the radar. In my view, they should be exposed and those involved should criticised.

Tolerance must be displayed by those on both sides. There must be freedom of expression. There is no point in people complaining here or in the media about the freedom people should enjoy. In that context, I refer to one of the recent atrocious incidents in France where several people were killed.


No comments

Log in or join to post a public comment.