Mr Gay Limerick pushes for hate crime legislation to deter homophobic, transphobic attacks
Dr Christian Moretti, the reigning Mr Gay Limerick, is calling for hate crime legislation to be brought into effect.
The contender for the title of Mr Gay Ireland is originally from Italy but has been living in Limerick for six years, where he teaches Italian, Spanish and Social Personal and Health Education (SPHE).
Speaking with the Limerick Leader, Mr Gay Limerick said: “We need a clear, unambiguous and strict law to combat any sort of hate crime, including homophobic and transphobic manifestations of hate crime.”
A Matter Of Urgency
Stating that although marriage equality was achieved last year, “the road ahead is still long” for the LGBT community.
Dr Moretti insists that still have a battle on their hands as far as full equality and combatting homophobia in it’s extreme and subtle manifestations.
“This law is urgently needed in order to protect all the individuals in this country, our young people and those who are afraid to be themselves.
“We cannot wait any longer – every day, hour, minute and second a person is bullied, abused, insulted, isolated, assaulted physically and verbally and we are taking a huge risk in waiting.”
“We need this law now, no delays are to be tolerated because our society may pay a very high cost. I feel that there is a discrepancy between politics and what people want and need”
Government Urged To Act
“Perpetrators [of hate crime] do not kill someone physically but they kill someone’s identity, their well-being, their mental health, their self-esteem. Isn’t mental health as important as physical health?”
Mr Gay Limerick is appealing to the government to protect LGBT people and others who suffer hate crime, by providing legislation that protects victims and condemns those who engage in hate crime.
“We need total freedom and we can only achieve that if the government decides to step in and safeguard every human being,” he said.
Homophobic Bullying In Schools
Dr Moretti, as an SPHE teacher at secondary level, is in a unique position to positively influence the lives of LGBT students.
By educating students about LGBT issues, he can redress the issue of homophobic bullying.
“The response from my students has been absolutely fantastic, but unfortunately it is an issue everywhere.
“Students have to be made aware that using certain terms are not OK, from an early age, and once you explain that to them they really take it on board.”
Still, homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying “is a huge issue unfortunately”, Dr Moretti said.
There was a HSE initiative to reduce homophobic bullying in schools, but as Dr Moretti has indicated, the government and politicians need to make eliminating homophobia, homophobic bullying and homophobic attacks a priority.