Opinion: It’s time to end the hate, says Francis Timmons

by Gazette Reporter

[vc_row][vc_column width=”2/3″][vc_column_text]Francis Timmons, a Clondalkin-based councillor (Ind) with SDCC, draws on his own experience as a gay man and as a Dubliner on the awful legacy of homophobia that hasn’t gone away – and which Ireland hasn’t done enough to tackle, despite our progressive culture.

Some 20 years after the murder of [young gay man] Matthew Shepard in a homophobic attack in Laramie, Wyoming, his remains were interred at Washington National Cathedral on October 26.

Reading about this, I was reminded of the murder of Declan Flynn in Fairview Park 36 years ago; both murders caused outrage and were condemned.

I am reminded when looking at both awful murders of the need for hate legislation in Ireland.

I am writing not as an elected councillor, but as a human being with the same emotions and feelings as everyone else.

I am a brother, an uncle, a husband among other titles, but above all I am a human being.
Twice I have received homophobic post and I have also had a video put on YouTube with homophobic content [targeting me].

Homophobia hurts. It affects mental health and wellbeing and should always be exposed for what it is – a vile, unnecessary and hateful action towards another human.

Sadly, in Ireland we don’t have hate legislation; we need it urgently – there is no place for homophobia, transphobia or racism in our modern Republic.

I once again call on the Government to legislate a bill that increases protection for minorities.

In the proposed Criminal Law (Hate Crime) Bill, which was drafted in 2015, tougher sentencing for individuals who carry out racist and other types of hate crimes was called for.

But the Government has yet to take action to review and introduce the Bill, leaving many minorities in Ireland feeling unprotected.

I hope the legislation will help “break the silence” on hate crime and encourage people to report racist and other hate attacks.

Ireland, unlike most other EU countries, has no hate crime legislation. I grew up in an Ireland where I saw others bullied and spat on for being gay.

I heard the cruel jokes and remarks about LGBT people; I heard the hate in people’s voices. I am sick to death of the “I’m not racist but…” line, and all other snide remarks at other people’s expense.

We need to send a clear message that racism and hate have no place here and that our society should be inclusive of all.

People should not be allowed to post vile and hurtful and spiteful trash on social media, or to post [hate-driven content] to any person without repercussions for their actions.

How dare anyone think it’s acceptable to post by letter or social media language that is vile and damaging to a human being?

That’s why we need urgent hate legislation. No person should be made to feel any less than they are.

We need to make sure the Government feels the strong pressure to protect our families, friends, neighbours and colleagues.

We need to send out a strong message that we want to live in a truly inclusive Republic which values all of our minorities and the integrity of our communities.

Enough is enough. There must be no room or acceptance for hate.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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