Senator under fire for ‘fairies’ comment

CIVIL rights campaigners have strongly criticised a Fianna Fáil senator who claimed he is entitled to call homosexuals "fairies" and argued that women working outside the home are a contributory factor to youth problems, including depression.

LGBT Noise – who campaign for rights, including same sex marriage for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual people, wrote to Taoiseach Brian Cowen calling for the expulsion of Senator Jim Walsh from the parliamentary party over his comments.

In an interview with Christina Murphy for the campaign group’s website, the Wexford senator asked her to explain how gay rights campaigners expect to be taken seriously when "men walk around half naked during demonstrations". "If I were to call people fairies. I would be called a bigot and all sorts of things, but David Norris says it all the time and nothing is said."

Ms Murphy responded: "David Norris is a member of the LGBT community, who has done more to progress LGBT rights than anyone else in the country. Jim Walsh is not a member of the LGBT community and is doing his best to regress our pursuit of full equality."

Mr Walsh was one of some 30 members of the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party who initially opposed the Civil Partnership legislation which will be debated in the Dáil this week.

Ms Murphy wrote to Mr Walsh asking him why he took this stance and he invited her to meet him.

He told her there are different reasons why people are gay, and continued, "I have spoken to psychologists about this."

LGBT Noise said his views "belong more to 1909 than 2009".

In response to the criticism, Mr Walsh said he had an "amiable conversation" with Ms Murphy and "we agreed to disagree".

He said: "People, regardless of their colour, creed or sexuality, are all citizens of this republic and are entitled to be treated with respect."

He accepted that "it wasn’t appropriate to be calling members of the gay community fairies", because it leads to homophobia "and we have to rule that out".

Catholic politicians have been urged to vote against the Civil Partnership Bill by a group called Family Solidarity.

The group issued notice to its members last week to "remind their public representatives of the constitutional rights of the family and of married persons and to seek amendments to the proposed bill to ensure this".