New gay Minister for Children, Roderic O’Gorman, subject to homophobia and online attacks

Following homophobic comments on Fathers Rights Ireland social media page, a Pride photo from 2018 has led to accusations and calls for O'Gorman to step down.

A smiling bearded man with grey hair and glasses stands outside

Green Party member, Roderic O’Gorman, who was appointed as the new Minister for Children, has been subject to homophobic abuse online and attacked for appearing in an old Pride photo with activist Peter Tatchell. The subsequent controversy has led to O’Gorman releasing a public statement to “set the record straight”.

On Sunday, Fathers Rights Ireland – a group for single fathers – posted a picture on their Facebook page of the moment when O’Gorman was elected and kissed his male partner. It was accompanied by the statement, “The new minister for children Roderic O’Gorman.”

Homophobic comments doubting his abilities for the role were posted underneath, and were subsequently ‘liked’ by Fathers Rights Ireland. A user also posted a photo of the previous Minister for Children, Katherine Zappone, with her late wife Ann Louise Gilligan, implying that LGBT+ people are unsuitable for the role.

Fathers Rights Ireland founder, Joseph Egan, apologised for the homophobic comments, but did not address the fact the post was only removed from their page on Wednesday. Egan stated, “Unfortunately, when you deal with people who are in a crisis situation they tend to lash out and I think that’s what has happened here.

“Our ethos is that you’re a dad for life and that includes whatever your sexual orientation is, and we have members who are homosexual. All of our members have access to the social media page. The downside of that is that occasionally you have people who post inappropriate comments.”

The right-wing political party, the Irish Freedom Party, also weighed in on social media, sharing the same image of O’Gorman and his partner accompanied by the statement, “Yet another Minister for Children appointed, Roderic O’Gorman, who doesn’t have children.”

Following those attacks, a photo of O’Gorman at the Dublin Pride Parade in 2018 with activist Peter Tatchell, which was originally shared by far-right groups has led to a large amount of social media posts saying the Minister for Children should resign from the role.

O’Gorman met Tatchell once – at the Pride Parade – and posed for a photo. Since then, people dragged up comments Tatchell made in 1997, which he has since corrected, where it appeared he condoned young people sleeping with adults. Actor John Connors, as well as the Irish Freedom Party, then made online announcements for O’Gorman to leave the role for associating with Tatchell, even going so far as to suggest a rally outside the Dáil mid July to have him sacked. Connors has called it “the political scandal of the year”.

O’Gorman responded today, “A small group of people with a very clear agenda have been making allegations about me on social media over the last few days. I’m taking this opportunity to set the record straight.”

The statement continued, “Over the last few days, there have been claims made online about me which I cannot allow to stand uncorrected. The accusations are rooted in homophobia, stoked by anonymous far right Twitter accounts. These accounts are using manipulation for their own ends, playing upon the genuine deeply held concern we all share for child protection.

“I met Peter Tatchell once and took a photo. that was the only time I have met him. I knew of him as someone who stood up for LGBT people in countries where their rights were threatened. I was surprised to read some quotes from the ’90s, which I had not read before. Any of those views would be completely abhorrent to me. I’m glad to see he’s clarified and explained that what is being alleged isn’t his view.

“Throughout my time in politics, I have fought for better protection and rights for Ireland’s vulnerable. It was on that basis that I believe I was asked to be Minister for Children, Disability, Equality, and Integration, and it is on that basis that I will work as Minister.”

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