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
People have been directing certain comments to me. The kind of abuse involved does nothing in the context of encouraging respectful debate on a matter which is very fundamental in nature. I completely accept that this is a fundamental issue for people who are lesbian or homosexual and I understand why that is the case. I happen hold a different perspective and I am of the view that people who do hold an opposing view must be entitled to respect. That is not happening at present.
I ask the Minister to contemplate what I am about to say. I read an article many years ago in which it was stated that conscience is the only bulwark against the totalitarian tendencies of all states and that this finds recognition in the present German Basic Law, or conditions, which, to avoid a repetition of the totalitarianism of the Nazi period when the conscience of citizens was mercilessly crushed, insists that those elected to parliament shall be representative of the whole people, not bound by orders or instructions and responsible only to their conscience. The latter comes from Article 38.1 of the German Constitution and I am of the view that we would do well to be mindful of it. We are not being mindful of it at present and I become concerned when the Minister refers to a hierarchy. There already is a hierarchy in place and I am of the view that she is choosing to ignore it.
In the context of matters of conscience, people can be prosecuted. However, they should have the right to mount the defence that they are coming at particular matters from a conscientious perspective. The courts and our legal system in general should be well capable of determining whether what is involved constitutes prejudice or discrimination or whether it is a genuine matter of conscience for the individuals concerned. That is not an unreasonable proposition and it is one I would like to see being respected those in government. I am afraid, however, it has not really been taken by the latter as yet.