Civil Partnership Bill
Madam, - Leo O'Shaughnessy (July 4th) appears to take grave offence at the suggestion that the Government's proposed legislation for same-sex unions could undermine marriage. He argues that the Bill is designed to ensure that "the institution of marriage remains untouched".
By this he presumably means that the Government has not attempted to redefine marriage. This is true, but the legislation indirectly diminishes the status of marriage by conferring similar rights and benefits on registered same-sex unions. Similarly, the lesser protections proposed in the same Bill for cohabiting heterosexual and same-sex couples also undermine the unique standing marriage has, and should have, in society.
The distinction between marriage and other forms of sexual relationship is being gradually obscured. It is clear why the State has always favoured marriage: it is naturally orientated towards the procreation and raising of children. It is unclear why the State should favour any other kind of sexual relationships over and above, for example, that of a couple whose relationship is based on familial ties, such as two brothers living together.
Mr O'Shaughnessy says my statement (July 3rd) that same-sex unions experience a higher level of violence and mental and physical illness is "born of the worst kind of bigotry"; and Dr Colm Humphries (July 5th) suggests I need to consider my own biases. Yet studies such as "Violence Between Intimates", published by the US Bureau of Justice Statistics in November 1994, indicate that violence is two to three times more common among homosexual partners than among married couples. The homosexual authors of Men Who Beat The Men Who Love Them also claimed that domestic violence affected half of all gay couples. The leading US gay magazine The Advocate reported that 75 per cent of its readers admitted engaging in violent sex, with a further 20 per cent engaging in sadistic sex. A study in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence examining conflict in lesbian relationships discovered that a third of those surveyed had experienced one or more incidents of physical abuse. Many other studies confirm these findings.
Male homosexuals also have a significantly reduced life expectancy, according to research published in the International Journal of Epidemiology in 1997, most likely as a consequence of the health risks of their lifestyle. As regards mental illness, a review of studies entitled "Homosexuality and mental illness", published in the Archives of General Psychiatry in 1999 stated that "homosexual people are at a substantially higher risk for some form of emotional problems". I fail to see how I am guilty of bigotry or bias because I refer to this evidence.
Personally, I believe the State should refrain from legislating for any kind of unions other than marriage. In my view, it is not I that should "stop caring about what goes on behind closed doors", as Mr O'Shaughnessy recommends, but rather the Government. - Yours, etc,
MICHAEL O'DRISCOLL, Blackrock, Cork.