Friday, November 18, 2005

Time For Irish Parties To Come Out Of The Closet

Congratulations to André Boisclair who has won the Parti Québécois leadership, becoming the first openly gay person in North America to lead a major political party.

The Parti Québécois is a social democratic and nationalist party, similar in nature to the SDLP.

At 23 years old, in 1989 he was the youngest member ever elected to the Quebec National Assembly. He served as a cabinet minister from 1998 to 2003, under PQ Premiers Lucien Bouchard and Bernard Landry, holding a variety of portfolios.

This week, he was elected as the sixth leader of the Parti Québécois with 53.7% of the votes compared to 30.6% for the closest runner-up Pauline Marois.

This must send out a clear message to the organisers of political parties in Ireland. In the context of the expanding European Union and advent of human rights legislation, political parties must do all in their power to make themselves as representative of the population as possible- how can parties reflect the needs of society if their leadership does not resemble it in social make-up?

As far as I am aware, there are no high-ranking gay politicans in Ireland. Indeed, DUP councillor Maurice Mills admonished the media for not calling attention to the fact that Hurricane Katrina struck just two days prior to a gay festival (which has been going for some 35 years) called the Southern Decadence Festival. The councillor asked: "surely this is a warning to nations where such wickedness is increasingly promoted and practised". He went on to (highly inaccurately) put the blame for the spread of AIDS in Africa on homosexual sex practices. [Source Slugger O'Toole]

In Britain, they had Culture Secretary Chris Smith, an openly gay politician(and as it turns out, AIDS sufferer), so where's the Irish equivalent? Political candidates and party officers should be elected and appointed on ability alone, but work needs to be done to ensure the pool of people from which parties can draw on these talents contains a spectrum of personnel reflective of society in Ireland today.

6 comments:

Jo said...

Does anyone know what the likely percentage of the total population is gay or lesbian? I have a 10% figure in my mind but that might just be an old UB40 song!

El Matador said...

Jo,

I think it would be impossible to put a percentage figure on it. Unlike other factors such as race, with which one can definitely say if a person is black, white, etc. being gay isn't as easy to define in that way. Apart from the fact that a lot of people who may consider themselves gay would never 'come out' for fear of reprisals- another issue which must be tackled. I see Amnesty has an exhibition in Derry at the minute on this issue.

Parnell said...

Maurice Mills is an idiotic arsebrain. In one short day that toolbrain Mills has managed to insult the intelligence of ordinary decent people everywhere.

Mr Mills has an extrodinary degree of homophobia. Maybe Mills is exposing his own insecurities. If one in ten people are gay Maurice Mills has an awful lot of gays to thank election result.

Not content at making a complete tit of himself by insulting the gay community he has also mannaged to gain contempt by blaming the psunami as an act of God.

EWI said...

Does anyone know what the likely percentage of the total population is gay or lesbian? I have a 10% figure in my mind but that might just be an old UB40 song!

Does that include bisexuals (of whom there seem to be a good many among the immigrant Eastern European women that I know ;-)

El Matador said...

Oh, EWI, that was close to the bone ;)

Jo said...

..did I miss something there? Are Eastern Euro women more inclined to be bisexual? Huh?

Parnell

Spot on with Mills analysis. At what point do people think that freedom of expression should give way to and be called homophobia or hate mongering?