Senator Sharon Keogan has been facing widespread criticism after making a controversial claim on Monday, September 6, that governments across the world are enabling an LGBTQ+ takeover. Keogan made the statement in relation to Katherine Zappone’s appointment as UN envoy, after texts between the former Children’s Minister, and Minister Simon Coveney were shared online.
Senator Keogan shared one particular text which sees Zappone refer to Joe Biden’s promise of appointing queer folk to high-level positions at federal agencies, while also mentioning the US President’s desire to advance LGBTQ+ rights and support reproductive healthcare globally. All of these things, she notes, align with Irish foreign policy.
In a tweet responding to the leaked message, Senator Keogan declared: “The most worrying issue here is the agenda of governments worldwide to catapult #LGBTQIA personnel into high-level positions. One’s gender or sexuality shouldn’t be used for a seat at any table. This is not equality, this is an organised takeover at every level in our society.”
The post has met criticism from both the public and politicians, with fellow Seanad member, Jerry Buttimer, describing Keogan’s language as “hurtful and not acceptable”, and saying that it showed a “complete lack of empathy”.
Speaking to The Times, the Fine Gael senator added that, “Making these far-right claims is just wrong. The tweet is completely out of order and cannot be tolerated,”
He said he would welcome Keogan to a debate on the Seanad floor when it recommenced later this month. “She is entitled to her own opinions, absolutely, but she can also be asked to explain herself and to be challenged,” he said.
This is a real person with a real Seanad seat. Which is really quite something. https://t.co/K8PFn9lqPx
— Dr Panti Bliss-Cabrera (@PantiBliss) September 7, 2021
Malcolm Byrne, who was the first openly gay Fianna Fáil party member, tweeted, “I’m proud that my government and most in Irish politics are committed to equality, to highlighting the rights of the #LGBTQIA community and to tackling gender discrimination at home and internationally. Populist, poorly informed takes like this show still work to be done.”
In a statement issued to The Times in response to the backlash she has received, Senator Keogan said: “I have an established record in supporting and participating in LGBT education programmes within my community. I also have an established record of employing LGBT personnel over my many years in business.
I am opposed to governments, whether the Biden administration or the Irish government, appointing personnel based on their sexual orientation.”
She added that “Sexual orientation is wholly irrelevant to the appointment process and should remain so.”
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