Politicians are describing Australia’s plebiscite on same-sex marriage as a nuisance, a distraction from the real business of government, a pimple on the body politic which need to be squeezed, bandaged and forgotten.
Nearly everyone would like to leave this increasingly rancorous debate behind. But not everyone. Judging from the latest news on this front from Ireland, for some zealots it means the beginning of a new crusade.
In 2015 Ireland voted to change the constitution to permit same-sex marriage. The result of the referendum was a convincing Yes, with more than 62 percent voting for change. The Irish constitution now reads: “Marriage may be contracted in accordance with law by two persons without distinction as to their sex.”
You would think that the overwhelming margin of victory would have extinguished the notion that Ireland is a homophobic country. But this is not the case.
As revealed by the London Times over the weekend, Áine Duggan, a former executive director of Glen, a gay rights group which played a major role in the referendum, has accused Ireland’s national health service (HSE) of “institutionalised homophobia”. She claimed that a HSE official had told her that LGBT groups were no longer a funding priority after the referendum.
Indeed, why should they be? They won.
But Duggan was shocked and declared this was “deeply problematic and will be alarming to the LGBTI community”. She complained about a “lack of an LGBTI strategy within the HSE”, and the absence of a bureau specialising in LGBTI issues.
This, she told the HSE, was “frightening”. It gave “the impression of what can sometimes be an institutionalised homophobia, as has been witnessed in institutions in other jurisdictions that have achieved same sex marriage rights”.
It is not really clear what “institutional homophobia” means. There seems to be no standard definition. However, one gay website explains that it “refers to the many ways in which government, business, religious institutions, and other institutions and organizations discriminate against people on the basis of sexual orientation. These organizations and institutions set policies, allocate resources, and maintain both written and unwritten standards for the behavior of their members in ways that discriminate.”
But how can Ireland be blighted with “institutional homophobia” if nearly two-thirds of the nation voted to enshrine homosexuality as a legitimate lifestyle in its very constitution? No doubt there are some dissenters left, but they have been dealt a crushing blow. Such fears are baseless, a case of homophobiaphobia.
Nonetheless, Ms Duggan seems to be pressing for more funding and more government support to flush the last cockroaches of anti-LGBT prejudice out of their dark and foetid hidey-holes.
You can only conclude that the demands of the LGBT lobby will be never-ending. If same-sex marriage fails to reassure gays and lesbians that they are socially accepted, more education, or re-education, will be needed to eradicate institutionalised homophobia, root and branch.
So Australian politicians who are hoping to sweep this irritation under the carpet may get a big surprise. Same-sex marriage may not be the end, but the beginning.
Michael Cook is editor of MercatorNet.