TD gets lots of support after coming out as gay

Fine Gael TD Jerry Buttimer has said he has received a lot of positive support since he came out as a gay man at the weekend.

The Cork deputy said he felt the creation of the Fine Gael lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender group was the appropriate time for him to speak about his private life.

He joins two Labour TDs as the only Dáil deputies to have come out.

Mr Buttimer said he hopes this is changing and he says being gay is "just part of who he is".

The Gay and Lesbian Equality Network in Cork congratulated Mr Buttimer for "his courage and integrity".

The chairperson of GLEN, Kieran Rose, said: "Jerry has given great leadership and shown that any lesbian or gay person can aspire to be a leading member of the Oireachtas.

"There is an increasing number of our elected representatives who are open about their sexual orientation; we look forward to more and more coming out; and being in leadership positions, including at Cabinet level."

In his interview with today's Irish Examiner, Deputy Buttimer advocates for gay marriage saying: "I have always viewed civil partnership as a stepping stone, a platform from which to build gay marriage".

Mr Buttimer also welcomed the forthcoming constitutional convention as the forum to debate this issue.

Deputy Buttimer, who talks about being "a TD who also happens to be gay", highlights the issues faced by young gay people saying that "if we can ensure that no young person is bullied, no young person is attacked because of their sexual orientation, then it has been a good day".

GLEN strongly welcomes the establishment of the Fine Gael LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) Group.

The group, whose inaugural event was held on Saturday, aims to promote equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people within the Fine Gael Party, including promoting the adoption of equality policies as Party and Government policy.

Mr rose said: "The establishment of this group is symbolic of the great progress Ireland has made over the last 20 years for LGBT people, and of the support of Fine Gael to ensure that LGBT people are fully included in Irish society.

"The new Fine Gael group is an indicator of how equality for LGBT people is becoming integrated across all aspects of Irish society, and across all political parties. It is also a clear signal that being lesbian or gay is increasingly less of a barrier to participation in politics at all levels.

"We know that despite the progress in Ireland there remains many unresolved issues for LGBT people, including safe and supportive schools for young LGBT people; access to civil marriage and legal recognition and support of same-sex headed families. We look forward to working with this new group to advance solutions to those issues," concluded Rose.

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