Head of Amnesty Ireland Colm O'Gorman calls out 'deeply homophobic slurs' targeting LGBT+ public figures

During a Lunchtime Live interview, Amnesty Ireland Executive Director Colm O'Gorman opened up about the emotional pressure of online hate speech.

Colm O'Gorman speaks at a press conference

Executive Director of Amnesty Ireland Colm O’Gorman called out the discriminatory abuse and hate speech targeted at LGBT+ public figures across online platforms in a powerful radio interview. 

During a Lunchtime Live radio piece, the Executive Director addressed the online attacks against Equality Minister Roderic O’Gorman and how this has become part of a larger issue. The Green Party member previously released a statement to address these comments as “rooted in homophobia, stoked by anonymous, far-right Twitter accounts.”

In response to online hate speech and discriminatory abuse targeted at LGBT+ public figures, Executive Director of Amnesty International Ireland Colm O’Gorman shared: “The reality is that if you’re LGBT – if you’re a gay man, a lesbian, a bisexual person or a transgender person – and if you dare to step into public life in any way to do work that you believe in, you will at some point very quickly begin to encounter deeply homophobic slurs.”

O’Gorman further stated: “Many of which particularly try to present you as a danger to children, as a risk to public morals or public decency or the public good. And it is incessant, it never stops – I’ve had this in one form or another for about 25 years, since I first came forward to talk about my own experiences of rape and abuse at the hands of a Catholic priest, right through now to my work on the Eighth Amendment with Amnesty International.”

Addressing vitriol around LGBT+ people being unfit parents, O’Gorman called out these comments as “weasily suggestions.” He identified how people place this idea into the public domain as a way of undermining queer public figures. 

The Amnesty Ireland Executive Director brought up the example of Katherine Zappone’s GE2020 campaign being targetted by “homophobic and transphobic” ads. O’Gorman detailed, “In the run-up the last general election, there was a very well-funded, orchestrated campaign pushing out a false website on social media from the usual far-right, homophobic actors suggesting that she was, again, a risk to children.”

“That she was a witch, that she practised witchcraft, that this was all part of her LGBT agenda – all this kind of stuff. Always there is this very explicit suggestion that if you’re LGBT, you are a risk to children, you’re dangerous,” continued O’Gorman. 

Speaking about the emotional impact brought on by these online discriminatory comments, O’Gorman shared, “One finds oneself in a position where you’re having to either respond to that or simply try and let it wash over you and ignore it. And the difficulty with ignoring it, which is generally what I’ve done… but the impact that has on people around me – on my family, on people who love me, on my kids, on my partner – is huge.”

The Executive Director spoke on the means of tackling hate speech across online platforms, “We do need to talk about it, we do need to call it out when it happens.”

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