'Homophobia' and same-sex marriage

Sir, – Millions of heterosexual married Catholics worldwide are not married in the eyes of their church because they have not been married in accord with church law. Which is perfectly okay, of course: membership is voluntary and Catholics should know what they are subscribing to. It’s a moot point as to whether the church law can be called “homophobic” or not: in practice, Catholic law is discriminatory against homosexuals.

The secular state doesn’t have that freedom; it must avoid the pitfalls of discrimination against any grouping. The consensus in most democratic countries has been moving for years towards non-discrimination against homosexuals, including homosexual marriage. Where’s the big problem? Let the churches legislate in any way they choose for their members; the state must legislate for its citizens. Those who know their scriptures will know that the Biblical Jesus said something similar, albeit a different context.

In spite of constitutional changes in the 1970s, Ireland still has some way to go in becoming a secular state. In that sense, the current debate is a constructive and productive one. – Yours, etc,





Immenstadt / Allgäu,


Sir, – Fintan O’Toole (Opinion, February 11th) recounted an experience of being "accused" in print of owning a BMW; while tempted to sue, he tells us he ultimately rejected the impulse. Although not explicitly comparing his experience to that of John Waters and Breda O'Brien, the allusion is pretty clear. My question, does he seriously think being accused of owning a BMW is comparable to being accused of homophobia on live television?

Further, as we now know that the first remedy sought by Waters was an apology and retraction from RTÉ ("Waters challenges RTÉ statement on Panti row" Social Affairs, February 7th), in what way is his implied criticism relevant? – Yours, etc,


Dun na Carriage,

Salthill, Galway.

Sir, – At best, the main reasons for opposing same-sex marriage seem to have emerged from a concern for any children who may become part of that union.

Legal arguments about inheritance and traditional quasi-religious views on parenthood are offered as points of debate on the issue.

However, these concerns fly in the face of our experience as a nation. Groups of men and women, brothers and nuns, have provided same-sex parenthood for countless Irish children (orphaned or abandoned by heterosexual parents). Boarding schools, run by men only or women only, have been stalwart substitutes for the natural home environment for children who are also placed in their care by heterosexual parents, with many of these institutions still in receipt of State funding.

The sudden anxiety about the moral definition of marriage here is no genuine reason, that, with proper attention paid to legal matters of inheritance, two gay people could not provide a supportive home environment for any child; and a heterosexual marriage is also no guarantee of a harmonious upbringing. Perhaps it would be more “acceptable” if the partnership of a gay man and a gay woman brought up a child?

So it all boils down to a pretentious circuitous argument like Jonathan Swift’s egg war in Gulliver’s Travels, or it is simply a Trojan horse for the repression of difference? – Yours, etc,


Monalea Park,

Firhouse, Dublin 24.

A chara, – Which of these two statements might be considered homophobic?

I believe in the inalienable right of a child to be reared by his/her genetic parents.

I believe in the inalienable right of an adult to procure and raise a child.

What would a child make of this, I wonder. – Is mise,


Carraig Ard,

Fort Lorenzo,


Sir, – Emily Neenan (February 11th) suggests that those who wish to avoid being outed as homophobic may do so merely by refraining from espousing homophobic views. I believe the current controversy in relation to this matter has arisen precisely because those so named did not air, and do not hold, such views. Is it possible that the right to make such accusations rests solely with those making them, without any right of appeal by those who feel unjustly labelled? – Yours, etc,


Forest Hills,

Knocknacarra, Galway.

Sir, – Kay Chalmers's letter (February 11th) on the reasons why there should be a ban on Dubliners marrying, has stoked memories from my own family's past. My paternal grandmother occasionally left off from her household chores in Marino, Dublin, to confide in me as a young boy her wonderment that none of her children seemed to support same-city marriage.

None of her eight children born in the Rotunda married anyone else born in the Rotunda, or even the Coombe or Holles Street. Instead, they married human beings born in California, Limerick, Leitrim, Kerry, Roscommon, Waterford and Wicklow. My granny was a loving woman and I think that while she would have supported same-sex marriage between Dubliners, she would have understood Dubliners who ventured outside the Pale to find a partner, just as long as they were happy. – Yours, etc,


Chemin Briquet,

Geneva, Switzerland.

Sir, – The debate on same-sex marriage has now wildly digressed to claims of victimhood on both sides. Even the titular nod to pantigate belies the argumentum ad misericordiam that both sides have resorted to. Neither being homophobic nor being accused of being homophobic alters the logic in the slightest and any attempt to claim such so far has been self-victimisation.

It should be pointed out, with the certainty of sounding callous, neither does having been the victim of homophobia give one the right to marry.

It is an irony worthy of Shakespeare that both sides are using the newspapers and television to claim that their freedom of speech is being stifled. Can we get back to the matter at hand?

Should people of the same gender be allowed to marry each other if they choose so freely? – Yours, etc,


Carrickbrack Heath,

Sutton, Dublin 13.

Sir, – Having looked at this issue from a great many angles, I have only found one coherent, secular argument against marriage equality. If and when it becomes a reality, unmarried homosexuals would then be subjected to the dreaded “You’ll be next” when attending weddings. This is an appalling thing to do to any minority. – Yours etc,


Pinewood Crescent,

Glasnevin, Dublin 11.