Buttimer delighted at ‘outpouring of support’

Jerry Buttimer says he has received nothing but support since becoming the first Fine Gael TD to come out as gay.

Among those contacting him to wish him well were former GAA president Christy Cooney, as well as a number of players.

Mr Buttimer said he was deeply appreciative of what he called the “outpouring of support”.

The Cork TD, who is heavily involved with the GAA, decided to speak about his private life after becoming chairman of a new Fine Gael forum aimed at promoting gay equality.

“Everyone has been great,” he said “I have received so many messages of support from all over the community and all walks of life and ages.”

Mr Buttimer said he had not been subjected to any negative comments regarding his decision to come out.

He said Taoiseach Enda Kenny had wished him well on the move, and on the creation of the gay equality group, when the pair met at a GAA game in Croke Park on Sunday.

The creation of the Fine Gael lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender forum for party activists and representatives marks a major shift in the organisation’s attitude to gay equality issues.

The Gay and Lesbian Equality Network (Glen) said Mr Buttimer had made a significant contribution to “the opening out of politics and society”.

Chairman Kieran Rose said: “We salute Jerry’s leadership, and his openness will be an inspiration to many young gay people and will be warmly welcomed by lesbian and gay people throughout Ireland.

“It is a tribute to Jerry and the openness of the party that he and the group have got the strong support of the Taoiseach and Cabinet ministers.

“As important was that Jerry used this opportunity to set out the need for further legislative reform, including civil marriage for same-sex couples.”

The setting-up of the gay forum within Fine Gael comes after the party’s ard fheis supported gay marriage equality, bringing it into line with Labour, Sinn Féin, and Fianna Fáil.

Mr Buttimer said he would like to use the forum to press for a constitutional referendum on upgrading same-sex civil partnerships to full civil marriage status.

This would put the group at odds with senior party members such as Europe Minister Lucinda Creighton, who has been outspoken in her opposition to gay marriage equality.

The forum was launched at the weekend when some 150 Fine Gael activists gathered in Dublin, and the meeting was addressed by two Cabinet ministers, James Reilly and Frances Fitzgerald.

Mr Kenny is set to speak at the forum in the autumn, and has been supportive of its evolvement within the party.

Mr Buttimer has joined two Labour deputies as the TDs in the 166-person Dáil to have come out.


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