Ireland’s new children’s minister is a gay man – and the response to his appointment is sickeningly predictable
Roderic O’Gorman, a gay man, has been appointed as children’s minister in Ireland’s new government – and the appointment has attracted exactly the response you’d expect.
The Green Party politician has been named the new minister for children as his party reached a landmark coalition agreement with Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil.
The appointment of O’Gorman, a proud gay man and a strong supporter of LGBT+ rights, has been seized upon by far-right trolls who have resorted to the age-old tactic of conflating homosexuality and paedophilia. Do stop us if you’ve heard this one before.
Far-right groups and ‘men’s rights’ activists have targeted gay minister
Fathers Rights Ireland, a ‘men’s rights’ group which claims to advocate for single fathers while posting a stream of misogynistic content, sparked the attacks by sharing a photo of O’Gorman kissing his partner on Facebook, writing: “The new minister for children Roderic O’Gorman.”
The homophobic dog whistle was swiftly picked up by the group’s members, who left a plethora of since-deleted homophobic remarks about the minister.
Far-right internet trolls seized upon the issue by launching a smear campaign against O’Gorman – who they have attacked for being photographed next to the rights activist Peter Tatchell at Dublin Pride in 2018.
Messages on Twitter and Facebook attracting hundreds of likes demand O’Gorman resign for his supposed “links” to Tatchell. The actor John Connors is among those to have backed the smears, making clear on Twitter, claiming: “Minister for children Roderic O’Gorman by lauding paedophilia promoting Peter Tatchell is not fit for office and must be sacked.”
Connors has also promoted a so-called “Hands Off Our Kids” rally which has attracted far-right support.
Roderic O’Gorman rejects far-right smears ‘rooted in homophobia’.
O’Gorman spoke out about the smear campaign on Monday, attacking “a small group of people with a very clear agenda [who] have been making allegations about me on social media”.
He wrote: “This week, my hope was to focus on getting stuck into my new role as a minister. However, over the last few days, there have been claims made online about me which I cannot allow to stand uncorrected.
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“The accusations are rooted in homophobia, stoked by anonymous, far-right Twitter accounts. These accounts are using manipulation for their own ends, playing upon the genuine, deeply held concern we all share for child protection.
“I met Peter Tatchell once and took a photo. That was the only time I have met him. I knew of him as someone who stood up for LGBT+ people in countries where their rights were threatened. ”
“I was surprised to read some the quotes from the 90s, which I had not read before. Any of those views would be completely abhorrent to me. I’m glad to see he’s clarified and explained that what is being alleged isn’t his view.”
He added: “Throughout my time in politics, I have fought for better protection and rights for Ireland’s vulnerable.
“It was on that basis that I believe I was asked to be minister for children, disability, equality, and integration, and it is on that basis that I will work as minister.”
The row comes as the country’s gay leader Leo Varadkar is officially replaced as Taoiseach – though under the coalition deal, Mr Varadkar will return to the office in 2022 as it rotates between the parties.