Sinn Féin Senator, Fintan Warfield, has contacted the gardaí after an onslaught of threatening online attacks and homophobic messages across his social media accounts. The insults subsequently spilled over into real life when he was on the receiving end of abuse as he made his way home from Leinster House.
While openly gay Warfield has been on the end of homophobic abuse before by right wing commentators during his time in politics, things escalated hugely following an action by the political party, Aontú, who shared on their social media page a photo of him taken years ago.
@fintanwarfield is my friend He is also a fierce campaigner & one of the most effective parliamentarians we have I’m proud to know him
These homophobic attacks won’t deter him
The absolute state of yiz..trawling his insta like the creepy obsessives you are?
Solidarity Finto x❤️x pic.twitter.com/WC6UCa8Oa6
— Louise O’Reilly TD for Dublin Fingal (@loreillysf) July 31, 2020
The image taken from Warfield’s personal Instagram account showed him on holidays wearing a Speedo and a t-shirt of the Pope. The party shared it accompanied by the text, “Why is a Sinn Féin Senator purposely seeking to offend people’s religious beliefs?” It was subsequently deleted following online backlash with many suggesting the party were singling him out because of his sexuality.
Following the post, Warfield was then bombarded with homophobic messages and threats on social media, to the degree he reported some of the threats to the gardaí. The Senator also locked his social media profiles in an effort to stem the attacks, saying Twitter was becoming “the most homophobic and transphobic space” for LGBT+ people. He also shared he would contact the social media company to address the issue.
Solidarity with my comrade @fintanwarfield
While some troll & tweet poison he’s busy advancing republican & progressive issues inside & outside the #Seanad
Hate won’t deter him. Hate won’t stop him. Hate won’t beat him. Tá muid leat Finto. pic.twitter.com/4ez8SlpyXQ
— Senator Niall Ó Donnghaile ⭕️ (@NiallSF) July 31, 2020
While the online attacks were worrying enough, a continuation of the abuse offline prompted further concern. In an interview with the Independent, Senator Warfield shared, “It became even more sinister and disturbing this week when I was walking home from work in Leinster House on Wednesday evening, someone said ‘alright pervert’ to me, unprovoked. I didn’t respond and just walked on. It just seemed too coincidental to hear that type of language on the street when online, words like ‘degenerate’ or ‘pervert’ were being directed at me.”
We are deeply concerned at the recent trend of online harassment of gay male politicians in the Republic. We express our solidarity with those affected and call on the Irish Govt to condemn this abuse and ensure LGBT+ politicians can do their jobs in safety.
— The Rainbow Project (@TRPNI) July 31, 2020
The online abuse directed at Senator Warfield comes not long after far right campaigners organised a protest outside the Daíl against the openly gay Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman. Calling themselves the ‘Save the Children’ rally, far right campaigners held pictures of nooses aloft, while a much smaller anti-racism and anti-homophobia group was attacked, forcing police to step in.
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