No campaigners criticise Nazi Germany ‘comparison’

Clinical psychologist Dr Maureen Gaffney referred to Nazis in speech about No vote

A statement from the Iona Institute called for Dr Maureen Gaffney to withdraw her comments immediately. Photograph: Cyril Byrne / The Irish Times

A statement from the Iona Institute called for Dr Maureen Gaffney to withdraw her comments immediately. Photograph: Cyril Byrne / The Irish Times


Campaigners for a No vote in the same-sex marriage referendum have hit out against clinical psychologist Dr Maureen Gaffney after she referred to Nazi Germany while speaking about the No side’s campaign.

Speaking at a Yes Equality press conference in Dublin on Thursday, Dr Gaffney said: “In Nazi Germany, nationals with German blood were not allowed marry Jewish people. In southern States in America until 1967, interracial marriage was banned. In apartheid South Africa, interracial marriage was banned.”

“I’m not drawing direct comparisons, we’re far from that here, but I ask you, what is the difference excluding a whole raft of ordinary people who are gay or lesbian? It is just another form of the same oppression.”

A statement from the Iona Institute called for Dr Gaffney to withdraw her comments immediately, while Independent TD Mattie McGrath said her comments exposed “a reprehensible attitude of contempt beneath the Yes Campaigns veneer of Liberal tolerance”.

“To draw such comparisons while at the same time claiming that it is the No side which is engaging in a politics of fear is almost laughably pathetic,” said Mr McGrath.

“For Dr Gaffney to draw an exact parallel between the murderous Nazi regime and honest, conscientious No voters is despicable and must be immediately withdrawn and apologised for.

“In many ways this kind of crude and nonsensical language is a reflection of the panic which must be setting in as the No vote continues to draw support for its position, because when you don’t have an argument it’s just much simpler to call people names.”

Prof Patricia Casey, a professor in psychology at University College Dublin, said Dr Gaffney’s comments showed “a total lack of respect” for those voting No in the referendum.

“She claims she is not making a direct comparison between No votes on the one hand and Nazis and racists on the other, but that is exactly what she has done. She puts opposition to same-sex marriage on precisely the same moral level as Nazism and racism.”

“Is Dr Gaffney seriously suggesting that believing in the differences between men and women and mothers and fathers is the moral equivalent of racism and Nazism? Her comments are deeply insulting and offensive to all No voters and must be withdrawn immediately.”

Dr Gaffney told Thursday’s press conference she had decided to actively support the Yes campaign as she was “deeply troubled” by tactics used by the No side.

She said it was “really egregious that the problems of surrogacy are being loaded on to gay, lesbian and bisexual people as if they haven’t enough to deal with” and said she found “the idea of surrogacy a most troubling issue - it’s like the wild west and requires very strong regulation nationally but also internationally”.

Meanwhile, Dutch psychologist Dr Gerard van den Aardweg told a No campaign event in Dublin on Thursday it was scientifically absurd to present homosexuality as heterosexuality, and that many scientific institutions had been taken over by “active militant gays”. He also said it was not true that homosexuals were born gay.

“No one in born that way,” Dr van den Aardweg said.

“Gay children do not exist, another propaganda item. He said most gay people were “comparable with alcoholics or other persons who are addicts but they have the feeling it’s my fate” and also claimed the Nazi party was “rooted” in homosexuals.