Buzzfeed, the popular American click-bait site which has recently acquired a serious case of the journalistic respectables, has a fairly lengthy article on the upcoming referendum in Ireland which proposes adding a clause to the constitution defining marriage in a gender-neutral manner (or as the opponents to the amendment would have it: imperilling heterosexual relationships and families, inculcating homosexuality into our schoolchildren and probably legalising enforced sodomy by dildo-brandishing transvestites on the altar of St. Mary’s Pro-Cathedral. Or something like that…). My characteristically acerbic West Cork mother has summed up the emotive arguments of those opposed to the changes with admirable brevity: “Pure shite“. However shite tends to stick and the “Yes” campaign clearly fears that the excremental deluge of misinformation and falsehoods coming from the “No” side will prevent the new addition to Bunreacht na hÉireann. While Seán and Síle Citizen may view same-sex marriages with relative equanimity the slightly more irrational members of the bead-rattling caste see it as the opening up of the Seventh Seal of the Apocalypse and the sure end of all things. Indeed for some factional interests on this island nation the debate over marriage equality has become a socio-political and religious battle; and we all know how fanatically febrile those contests can become. Which brings me, somewhat hesitantly, to the Iona Institute. I say hesitantly since publicly discussing the well-known Roman Catholic lobbyist organisation is akin to tap-dancing through a mine-field, such are the levels of litigious danger one must expose oneself to. It is probably safe to say that when it comes to investigating or reporting on the group’s activities the exposure-adverse folk at Iona have bludgeoned much of Ireland’s national news media into submission, thanks to their not inconsequential financial and legal resources. Supine newspapers, radio stations, and television networks will utter hardly a word of criticism on any matter relating to Iona lest they find themselves beaten into prostrate penury before the High Court. Even writing of such things risks raising the ire of those-who-must-not-be-named. However something I read in the Buzzfeed report mentioned above seemed worthy of notice:
“Mills and Quinn [David Quinn, the very public face of the Iona Institute] both said the No campaign had not received any funding from international donors, however. Quinn said the Iona Institute’s only substantial international funding has been €24,000 over the past few years from an Italian foundation headed by a former member of the European Parliament, Luca Volonté, who sits on the board of the conservative online campaign platform CitizenGo… But none of that money has gone to the referendum campaign, Quinn said.”
That name, Luca Volonté, struck a note with me for some reason, and then I remembered this 2009 story from Italy:
“A singer who has penned a song about a man that “used” to be gay is going to be one of the acts headlining at the Sanremo music festival in Italy in February. The controversial male artist Povia has penned the song “Luca Was Gay” and is competing for the accolade of best song. Two years ago Povia won the San Remo festival with a song about marriage, and the Vatican has been accused of overtly interfering with the event. [it is believed] …that “Luca Was Gay” refers to Luca Tolve, who says he was “cured” of his homosexuality at the hands of controversial Catholic American psychologist Joseph Nicolosi. Nicolosi works for National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality whose mission statement says: “NARTH upholds the rights of individuals with unwanted homosexual attraction to receive effective psychological care, and the right of professionals to offer that care.” NARTH claim that they can free people from a homosexual lifestyle… Italian politician Luca Volonté of The Union of Christian and Centre Democrats has rebuffed calls …to withdraw the song from the concert as, “a clear attempt at discrimination and censorship.””
Ah yes, Luca Volonté of the “gay-cure” song scandal (just in case you’re wondering, the lyrics of the song are every bit as offensive as you might have expected; apparently the fault for the temporary sexual aberration lies with too much mothering and not enough fathering which naturally turned the poor young chap into a Liberace tribute-act. At Christmas. In Los Vegas). Of course supporting an alleged freedom of speech issue does not imply anything improper about the former Italian politician, or his relationship with the Iona Institute. Nor does Luca Volonté’s very public – and repeated – support for the autocratic far right coalition government of Viktor Orbán in Hungary with its controversial campaign to impose “Christian” values on the institutions of the Hungarian state. It certainly doesn’t mean that like-minded fellow-travellers might be attempting to do the same to our increasingly secularist republic. It’s just interesting, that’s all. Honestly…
Your mother has the truth summed up beautifully. What else is there to say… except wonder, despondently, despairingly perhaps, why some people could have so much hatred and free time on their hands that they’d dare to continue to legislate who someone else can love and commit to as a life partner, and vehemently oppose anything in the direction of being loving and respectful of others, themselves. There were times when not even the majority of their ancestors would have agreed with them. Such prejudice against the LGBT community only serves to further demonstrate people’s failure to recognize the humanity in others. Thanks for adding your voice to the issue.