herald

Saturday 16 December 2017

Media criticised on 'Yes vote bias' on gay marriage

Picture shows singer Gavin Brennan who was surprised as his boyfriend Jamie (left) proposed to him on stage and he accepted.
Picture shows singer Gavin Brennan who was surprised as his boyfriend Jamie (left) proposed to him on stage and he accepted.

There is an endless and "one-sided" promotion of the Yes vote for same-sex marriage taking place across the airwaves, according to the Director of the Iona Institute.

David Quinn of the Christian think-tank body made the comments as Dr John Crown, a senator, urged a Yes vote while he was a panellist on Marian Finucane's show.

The host said they were not going to cover the referendum as the programme wasn't set up yesterday to look at the issue.

But she said Dr Crown had looked at articles in the papers about a "conscience clause".

objections

It emerged yesterday that Archbishop Diarmuid Martin has called for a legal conscience clause to allow lay people express religious objections without breaking equality laws.

Before he started talking about what the clause was, Dr Crown said: "By the way, vote Yes."

However, Marian subsequently referred to rules that broadcasters are bound by.

"We are bound by rules here. I mean I don't particularly like them but we are bound by them," she pointed out.

Dr Crown said that he was troubled by the conscience clause.

"The conscience clause is that people who do not approve for religious, moral, ethical, personal reasons of same sex marriage should be allowed. I am guessing to withdraw their services if they provide a service in some context to marriage, be it officiating or making cakes, or renting out their hotel room for a wedding service," he said.

He also said that people can't determine their skin colour, height, eye colour or sexual orientation.

"It's part of what you are and it is either a human right or it isn't a human right to access marriage, and if we, and I hope we do vote Yes, if we do vote that we will make marriage equality part of our Constitution in the years to come, I don't believe that people should be allowed to opt out," he said.

However, Mr Quinn said that he couldn't think of a "single example" of somebody going on air to one of these programmes and saying 'I'm voting No'.

"I'm glad that Marian Finucane challenged him, that's a good thing all right.

"But there's basically endless and one-sided promotion of the Yes vote taking place across the airwaves anyway," Mr Quinn said.

He said that it was not just RTE, it's across the airwaves.

"Fairness and impartiality on the airwaves is as essential to proper democratic debate as well functioning banks are to a well-functioning economy," Mr Quinn said.

Meanwhile, Amnesty International activists and supporters assembled at a 1,000 strong rally to launch its campaign for a Yes vote in the upcoming referendum on May 22.

Executive director Colm O'Gorman said it was a historic date.

At the event, singer Gavin Brennan was surprised as his boyfriend Jamie proposed to him on stage - he accepted.

fdillon@herald.ie

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