Limerick city councillor: "Gay politicians should stop living double lives"
GAY politicians should adopt the "moral courage" shown by GAA player Donal Og Cusack, and stop leading double lives, a former Mayor of Limerick has said.
Fine Gael's Cllr Diarmuid Scully made his comments following a row in City Hall this Monday in which Labour's Cllr Tom Shortt raised the issue of homophobia.
Cllr Shortt claimed that homophobic comments were made in Limerick City Council's chamber, but Cllr Scully said he was unaware of any such comments being made and would take great exception if they were.
Cllr Shortt clarified to the Limerick Leader that the remarks were made in relation to Gay Pride week, with a councillor allegedly asking: "Sure, what is there to celebrate really?"
"He was effectively pouring cold water on the celebrations, but the remarks didn't go any further. It was specifically a questioning of the rights of gay people to put flags on the bridge. Thankfully the council brushed it aside and in effect supported the rights of gay people," said Cllr Shortt.
While the remarks were made within the council chamber, it was during a presentation on a number of issues, and not in a council meeting.
However, Cllr Scully said verbal remarks are not the only form of homophobia, stating that "hypocrisy can be just as deadly", especially in politics.
In fact, he said politics was "one of the last bastions for homophobia", with political life being an "unwelcoming place" for gay politicians.
"Politics is a deeply homophobic profession. Officially there are almost no openly gay TDs or councillors in Ireland – a statistical impossibility. Clearly there are many people in public life who are hiding their sexual orientation.
"This is probably true of all political parties. Certainly in the Labour Party we have had a clear case of an ambitious gay politician who paraded his wife and children before the cameras while secretly visiting rent boys," said Cllr Scully, in reference to Emmet Stagg, the Labour Party's chief whip.
In 1994 garda found the then Minister of State loitering in an area of the Phoenix Park used by male prostitutes. Mr Stagg was questioned by the garda but no charges were filed against him.
Cllr Scully said he was not aware if any of the City Council's 17 representatives are gay, but said "statistically there ought to be".
He continued to say that he will never know what it is like to be gay in Ireland, but imagines "life would be made a little easier if some of those who purport to be our leaders showed the sort of moral courage that Donal Og Cusack has shown and stopped leading double lives."
Cllr Scully, a graduate of the University of Limerick and former Student Union president, said he has spoken out on numerous occasions about the damage that homophobia causes in our society, and in particular about the role it plays in the rate of suicide among young men.
"Research indicates that between 30 and 50 per cent of all suicides are young gay men, a figure out of all proportion to their numbers in the population and one that indicates quite clearly that homophobia costs lives," he said.
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