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Homophobic abuse of Irish deputy prime minister Leo Varadkar outside his home condemned

Irish police confirmed a protest took place and there have been reports that homophobic language was used by some of those involved.

2021-09-20

Words: Alastair James; pictures: Wiki

Irish politicians have condemned the homophobic abuse that took place as part of a protest outside the home of the Irish Deputy Prime Minister, Leo Varadkar, on Sunday (19 September).

According to police, a protest by anti-vaccination demonstrators place outside the politician’s home in Dublin for around an hour.

Varadkar, whose current position is known as Tánaiste in Ireland, is openly gay and was the first serving Irish minister to come out. He later became Ireland’s first gay prime minister or Taoiseach.

“Outrageous and shameful”

There are reports, including in Dublin Live, that homophobic language was used as part of the protest outside Varadkar’s house. Sinn Féin president Mary Lou McDonald said online that, “The homophobic, bigoted intimidation witnessed at the home of Leo Varadkar today is outrageous and shameful,” and called for those responsible to be held to account.

The country’s minister for Higher Education, and Mr Varadker’s Fine Gael party colleague, Simon Harris, described the protest as “sickening, repulsive, disgusting behaviour”.

He continued on Twitter: “It has no place in a democracy, must be condemned by all & called out for what it is. Efforts to dehumanise politicians contributes to this. Vile on so many levels.”

The International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association Europe’s (ILGA) 2021 Annual Review of LGBTQ rights states that hate speech in the media in Ireland is an “ongoing issue,” as well as in the UK.

Currently, Ireland does not have any specific legislation to deal with hate crimes. The country’s Department of Justice states on its website that while hate speech is an offence, there have been few persecutions since the Prohibition of Incitement to Hatred Act was introduced in 1989.

In April, it was announced by the then Justice Minister, Helen McEntee, that a new law - Criminal Justice (Hate Crime) Bill 2021 - would tackle hate speech and crimes including those with racial and homophobic elements.  

McEntee said at the time: “These crimes are motivated by prejudice. They make victims feel afraid for their future, their friends and their families. They lead to a divided society, where whole communities can feel unsafe and angry.

 “We must get tough and show victims that we will recognise the true harm of these crimes. And perpetrators will know that we are determined to stamp out prejudice and hate.”

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