Katherine Zappone's GE2020 campaign targeted by homophobic website and Facebook ads

The website and Facebook ads that target Zappone are being run by the Burke siblings from Mayo and also allege Zappone is a believer in witchcraft.

Katherine Zappone speaking to the press at Leinster House

TENI have described a website and Facebook ads targetting Katherine Zappone for her support of LGBT+ rights and “homophobic and transphobic”.

The website is being run by Enoch Burke, one of four siblings who received a lifetime ban from all student societies at NUI Galway in 2014.

Enoch was running for Equality Officer of the students union at the time. He received the lowest number of votes.

In recent years, he and his brother Josiah Burke have turned their attention to promoting campaigns targetted at openly gay MEP Maria Walsh and now similarly with the current Minister for Children Katherine Zappone.

The website calls for Zappone not to be re-elected because of her “radical beliefs”.

“She praises the value of witchcraft but suggests that Christian beliefs are a danger to society,” the website says.

Elsewhere it states: “Zappone has promoted LGBT, weakened the power of parents and pushed to criminalise ‘homophobia’ despite the threat to religious freedom.”

The website questions if homophobia is real, using quotation marks around the word.

Gordan Grehan, operations manager at TENI, told The Times the website is “transphobic and homophobic”. He added: “It’s really unpleasant targeting an individual based on her identity.”

In response to queries, Mr Burke said: “The reason that homophobia is in quotation marks on my website is because nobody knows what it really means.”

He added that the term homophobia was “synonymous” with shutting people who express their religious beliefs down saying that across Ireland “ordinary people are afraid to express their religious beliefs lest they be called a homophobe”.

The website claims that Ms Zappone prioritised LGBT+ causes and also alleges that she believes in witchcraft.

“Firstly, its basic form is a coven, usually consisting of 13 people in mockery of Christ and his 12 disciples. Secondly, Wiccans often perform in the nude, and sexual rituals are key to their ceremonies,” it says.

Mr Grehan said it was “laughable” and a “reach” to make this assertion.

“It makes me really want to vote for her. The homosexual practising witchcraft. That’s got my number one,” he said.

The website is being promoted by his brother Josiah on Facebook through a sponsored post.

The ad states: “While thousands of children go homeless in Ireland, Katherine Zappone TD (Minister for Children) gives €100,000s of your taxpayer’s money to LGBT causes. Is she the right choice for Dublin South-West?”

A spokesperson for Facebook says the promotion does not violate their policy.

“The actual ad itself, there is nothing in that ad, in the contents of that ad that is violating our political ad or transparency policy or any of our community standards. From the perspective of the particular ad, it does not break our rules,” a spokesperson said.

Josiah ran a similar ad campaign during the MEP elections which specifically targetted Maria Walsh.

During an interview with EuroParlRadio, Walsh revealed that when she contacted Facebook, Google and Twitter regarding the slurs used in ads but was shut down straight away.

In an interview with EuroParlRadio, she said: “Only a few months ago, a website developed that was quite homophobic but was quite professional.

“We complained to Google, Facebook and Twitter and the domain holder itself — and what we got back, instantly, was that it was free speech.

“But yet it was homophobic slurs.”

The website claimed that she was pushing LGBT+ views “down the throats” of young people.

She added: “If I go into schools it is a Q&A talking about how to get our community reflecting in our politics and our politics reflecting on our community.”

Walsh is now involved in a new European Parliament initiative which will look at gender-based violence online which it is hoped will influence future EU policies.

© 2020 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

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