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BISHOP PAT URGES TDS: COME OUT IF YOU'RE GAY; Buckley Tells Politicians to Champion Gay Rights.

Sunday Mirror (UK) 2 April 2006 by KEVIN McDONNELL

REBEL Bishop Pat Buckley has urged gay TDs to come out of the closet and admit they are involved in same-sex relationships.

He made the call as Bertie Ahern is become the first Taoiseach in history to open a Gay Centre in Dublin tomorrow.

Bishop Buckley said he was delighted the Taoiseach had made the step in accepting gay and lesbians in Irish society, but wants senior politicians to admit their sexuality.

He said: "I'm sure there are TD's who are homosexuals. A few years ago Emmet Stagg was caught in Phoenix Park with a young man.

"There are TDs of all persuasions.

"Senator Norris is gay. I'm sure there are plenty of TD's in the closet.

"Ireland's behind the times in a lot of things but I'm glad the Taoiseach is doing this on Monday."

During the 1980s and early 1990s, Stagg was a prominent figure within the internal politics of the Labour Party.

In the Fianna Fail-Labour coalition government formed after the 1992 general election, he became Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, with Special Responsibility for Housing and Urban Renewal.

In 1995, he was appointed Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Energy and Communications in the newly-formed Rainbow Coalition Government.

While holding this position, he was questioned by gardai over his apparent contact with a male prostitute in Phoenix Park.

Stagg was not charged with any criminal offence.

Davis Norris has been a Senator since 1987. He remains a campaigner for the rights of homosexuals and took a number of cases to the Irish Courts and the Court of Human Rights in the 1980s to demonstrate that the laws criminalising homosexual acts between consenting individuals were in breach of the convention on human rights.

Ahern will make history when he opens the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network in Dublin.

Now Bishop Buckley is urging the Taoiseach to do more when it comes to the rights of gays and lesbians.

The Bishop said: "Now we need him to introduce legislation such as the civil partnership that Tony Blair brought into the UK.

"I hope his commitment to this section of the community is strengthened."

A Catholic Church spokeswoman said: "The Catholic Church cares equally for all: irrespective of gender, orientation or state of life.

"The Church remains committed to advocating and promoting the common good of everyone in our society and to giving practical expression to our pastoral concern for homosexual people within and beyond the Catholic Church.

"The Catholic Church teaches that homosexual people are to be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity.

"The Church condemns all forms of violence, harassment or abuse directed against people who are homosexual."