Complaint upheld over Myers article

 

The Press Ombudsman has upheld a complaint against the Irish Independent about an article on marriage rights for same-sex couples written by columnist Kevin Myers.

Ombudsman John Horgan found the article was in breach of Principle 2 (Distinguishing Fact and Comment) and Principle 8 (Prejudice) of the Code of Practice for Newspapers and Magazines.

The article was published on  March 14th, 2012, under the headline “Every single human decision has a consequence – so remember that the next time you vote for someone’s rights”.

The Ombudsman found the article had reported as fact that “the liberalisation of the laws against homosexual acts” had resulted in the “catastrophic reality” of “at least 250,000 deaths from Aids”.

It had also reported that “the record of every society shows that boys without a strong stable male figure in their lives are an express train heading for trouble”, and that Catholic adoption agencies have “closed rather than do something which they feel is immoral, which is to hand children over to homosexual couples”.

Campaign groups Marriage Equality and BelongTo Youth Services, as well as three other people, had lodged complaints about the article.

The Irish Independent said the article was an opinion piece which did not breach the code because the writer was entitled to express his views under the principle of freedom of expression.

Articles such as these were designed to contribute to debates on controversial topics, the newspaper claimed.

The newspaper offered to publish contrary views from Marriage Equality but this was declined.

The Ombudsman found the newspaper had failed to “distinguish adequately between fact and comment”, and the breaches were “capable of causing grave offence”.

A number of other complaints relating to truth and accuracy were not upheld.