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Norris’ withdrawal from Presidential race prompts concerns among LGBT community

Last update - Monday, August 15, 2011, 19:38 By Metro Éireann

The withdrawal of longtime human rights activist Senator David Norris from Ireland’s Presidential race has led to widespread disappointment – as well as suspicion that more malign forces are at play.

Senator Norris had been the frontrunner for the Presidency due to his enormous popularity with the Irish people, even though he had not secured the necessary Oireachtas nominations to put his name on the ballot.
Those hopes were dashed when numerous TDs and Seanad members withdrew their support, following the revelation of a letter Senator Norris – who is openly gay – wrote to the Israeli state in 1997 to plead for clemency in the sentencing of a former partner convicted of the statutory rape of a 15-year-old boy.
“If you ask a lot of the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered) community, they will tell you they felt that he was treated unfairly,” said one Irish lesbian who wished to remain anonymous.
Most people in the LGBT community understood the gravity of the situation, she said, but they also felt that the media continuously targeted him in an unfair manner, and that some in the media were never comfortable with the idea of a gay man as President, despite the Joycean scholar’s long-standing commitment to human and civil rights.
“This has left us devastated,” she said, noting that many in the LGBT community saw Senator Norris’s potential nomination as their ‘Obama moment’.
Anger has also been aroused regarding the insinuation that Senator Norris’ letter showed that he didn’t care about the victim.
The widespread belief among LGBT people is that those who are against their sexual orientation now have a weapon to distort not only his record, but also their entire community.
“Although we are have been hit in the gut, we will continue to fight until everyone is free to live their lives the way they choose,” the woman added.

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