Leave It Mrs O’Brien




At time of writing the column does not appear on the paper’s website (which would usually be the case). We will remove this post once that does happen. We are reprinting Mrs O’Brien’s column because it is an important contribution to the homophobia debate and in the public interest that it be made available online.

It may be worth noting that neither Breda O’Brien nor John Waters appear on the list of Irish Times columnists on the paper’s site this evening.

Update: Breda O’Brien’s column is now available on the Irish Times website.

Who would dare to oppose gay marriage and risk being accused of homophobia (Breda O’Brien, Irish Times)

68 thoughts on “Leave It Mrs O’Brien

  1. imkickarse

    So her reasoning for voting no is not only to disallow gay marriage, but because otherwise people will be encouraged to use the word ‘homophobe’ to label people such as herself? She is mad…

    1. Chompsky

      Thanks TK Ickle. We took it down when we were contacted by a representative from the paper and told that it was normal practice in the Irish Times to sometimes “delay publish” print columns going online. We repost it now because we have since suspected this may not have been the case in this instance. Apologies for the confusion.

    2. Mr. O'Sullivan

      No you’re not going mad! I knew I saw it here earlier but went to look for it a little while ago but it had disappeared!

      1. TK ickle

        Sorry but I am going mad :(

        What about the non gay people who like a bit of jailbait? Or Animal sex?

        No one cares about them!

        Them just weird and left out of society.

        If someone wants to make love to a tree, then let them. Lets be all inclusive.

        1. deliverancecountry

          Is it illegal to have relations with trees/shrubbery/herbacious borders. Is it conseneual? Do you have a point or are you a comfortable middle-class hetero without thought or consideration? Flame on.

          1. The (Alive Alive-o) Institute of the combined Gay Lobby and Gay Ideological Movement, now Known as the Ideolobbical Rainbow Institute

            I think it is only illegal if you do it in a public place, or are visible doing it in your garden; then its indencency or gross indencency?
            If you are ravishing your radishes in the privacy of your home, its not a crime. In Middle Earth, it probably would be a crime, but the Ents look big enough to look after themselves.

    3. Giz

      Thanks, I went to show this to a friend earlier and couldn’t find it.. Even stranger, neither John Waters nor Breda O Brien were showing up on the “columnists” section of the Irish Times website, nor was this article available via the Irish Times website..
      I really and truly thought I was losing it, can only imagine what they thought of me!

  2. Jane

    Well, once again, the good old €85,000 question arises.

    I wish someone would be explicit about what their non-homophobic objection to gay marriage is. They try to say it’s about children, but this referendum has nothing to do with child adoption or custody. So why lie and pretend it is if they have an actual reason that isn’t based on lies?

    Also, there’s no reason or research to back up their contention that growing up in a family with homosexual parents has worse outcomes. Again and again research indicates that it’s the quality – not the composition -of relationships that counts.

    So kids aren’t the issue, and even if they were, some people are lying about the effects.

    Now I don’t know why these misrepresentations are used by these people. But there’s some reason they object to gay rights and they choose to lie and misrepresent to make an argument that might fly among people who take these arguments at face value.

    I don’t know why, but if I were a rich person, I might hazard a guess.

    1. Zuppy International

      A non-homophobic objection to gay marriage? Simple. Marriage is a sacred contract between a man and a woman to bear and raise children. It is the culturally recognized sanction for the genetic predisposition to ‘pair bond’. In the ideal scenario, both parties give up something (the right to have sex with others) and both parties receive something by return: greater security for their genetic offspring.

      Without the intention and ability to bear and raise children ‘marriage’ as it is commonly understood has very little meaning. This is not a religious position, it is not a moral position, it is a fact of the human family (which includes gays, lesbians and straights ‘cos we all need a man and a woman to have sex before we can be part of the human family!).

      Of course the human family in its purest form has no need for the state which is why the state seeks to destroy the meaning of family at almost every turn through ‘education’, indoctrination and the deliberate, relentless re-engineering of meaning.

      Hence the current trend to jump up and down and scream “HOMOPHOBE” without considering the facts or the evidence.

      Liberal, knee-jerk, reactionary hate-speak, and you’ve all fallen into the trap.


      1. Jane

        I’m married, no kids. Keep your opinions about the worth of my marriage to yourself. You have no idea about other peoples’ lives.

      2. lolly

        right so no woman over 44 should be allowed to marry then (given her chances of bearing children are very low – IVF doesn’t count as lesbian couples can get IVF). your posting is nonsensical. I suspect you are a troll and I shouldn’t be feeding you…

      3. Chucky R. Law

        As long as all people older than, say 45, are also banned from marriage then I’m ok with that logic.

      4. stephen

        “Marriage is a sacred contract between a man and a woman to bear and raise children”
        Were not looking for religious marriage were looking for civil marriage sacred has nothing to do with this argument

      5. bruce01

        Tell me more about “a sacred contract”.
        Tell me more about “the ideal scenario”.
        Tell me more about “the human family in its purest form”.

      6. Sidewinder

        Simple short answer to the convoluted response above – not any more. Things change. Welcome to the 21st century.

    2. Anon

      Always makes it easier to win an argument if you are asking the questions and putting the other person on the defensive. I could try and answer your question but can you answer this:

      What’s wrong with Civil Unions?

      1. Jane

        They’re a sop to the definitely not homophobic community. Gay people should have exactly the same rights – and the same right to terminology to describe their relationships – as straight people.

        Why should gay people have to have special not-quite-as-good code words?

      2. Sidewinder

        160 legal differences between civil partnerships and civil marriage.

        Also remember “separate but equal”? How did that work out for the states?

  3. Phil

    Ah this article is back, I cannot wait to vote yes in the referendum on whether gay peple should be allowed to marry :)

  4. Lilly

    She’s a windbag. It’s time for the Irish Times to audition new columnists. They could invite writers to submit say three columns & have an open competition. Otherwise they’re going down.

  5. Formerly known as @ireland.com

    I am not so much anti-Catholic, as I am anti-religion, all religions. Rubbish like the article above is why.

  6. Martin

    Despite her”someone think of the children” rhetoric, she then chooses to dehumanise children born through surrogacy or gamete donation by referring to them as “commissioned”. Disgusting.

  7. Huffhaff

    From the article: “People were terrified of going public with doubts about gay marriage.” Ha! So she’s basically saying homophobes are terrified of coming out of the closet. Isn’t it sad Breda, that it is sometimes very difficult in this society to stand up for who you are without being looked down on?

    1. deliverancecountry

      Lolwut Breda? You’ve had a thousand years to bash deh gheys with pomp and ceremony…

  8. lolly

    on the original posting of this article there was a comment about boycotting the Irish Times. I think this is counterproductive not to mention unfair given that Fintan O’Toole’s contribution earlier this week was excellent and that on the other side of the page from Breda O’Brien’s piece is an elegant and cogently argued piece by KIieran Rose of GLEN.

    1. steve white

      screw all trollumnists (not including in the screwing is the occasional contributions to papers such as the person from GLEN)

  9. martco

    just wondering if anyone copped that photo being used in her column header is bogus?
    at best it’s barely a passing resemblance…either heavily Photoshopped/GIMP’d using the reeling in the years tool….or maybe it is her just it’s the photobooth one off her USIT card from 1983

  10. Clampers Outside!

    Sorry Breda, but, there are plenty of examples of gay being natural and found in the normal order of nature in the world.
    To put that in perspective for your point of view. That’s the nature that your God created.

    To call being gay ‘intrinsically disordered’ when it doesn’t fit into your interpretation of this God’s world IS intrinsically homophobic.

    1. Jane

      In any event, if their religion informs their definitely not bigoted opinions, it’s a bit much to deny anyone’s civil rights on the pretty thin basis that an imaginary old man in the sky doesn’t like it but refuses to anything about it, despite being omnipotent. I’m not convinced.

  11. Clampers Outside!

    Reason number one why Breda O’Brein’s interpretations of what is ‘not unusual’ is not normal. And therefore her views of the world are ‘intrinsically disordered’.

    Breda O’Brrien says “if you know 20 priests, which is not unusual in Ireland” (VinB Nov 2011) …shows that she is living in another world. One where she doesn’t know what is normal.

    I can confidently say I know one priest and by know, I mean he ‘might’ also know me by name.

    But 20! TWENTY! That is unusual. How many do you know?

    1. Formerly known as @ireland.com

      I don’t live in Ireland any more. I can say that I am aware that one of the four priests in my village is now a convicted pedophile.

    2. lolly

      good point – I know two – the one that visits my mother and the other is a cousin of my wife and lives in Peru.

  12. AndrewDoyle

    Well done for putting this up. I don’t know who decided to shield Brenda from replies by keeping her offline – but only fair in this day and age that their is right if reply.

    She contstructs such convoluted arguments but the bottom line is simple – equality is equality is equality.

    If I say that Catholics should be excluded from certain things then that would be anti-catholic of me.

    If I say that everyone should be treated equally that is not anti-catholic. Saying that gay people should be treated differently and excluded from certain rights given to other citizens is anti-gay. So maybe homophobe is not the equivalent word used for sexist, racist, ageist etc – but we use xenophone for those who would deny rights to certain people in our society who happen to be born outside our borders or who are “different” in some way. So homophobe is not necessarily inappropriate. Maybe Brenda could suggest a better word for someone who knowingly campaigns for discrimination against gay people.

    So Brenda, either you treat people equally or you don’t, otherwise you are discriminating. Pure and simple and no convoluted arguement.

  13. The Frilly Keane Institute

    Lads. D’ye not have better, or what tweens would say Funner, things t’do instead’a worrying about where the IT put their onlines. Or what this money crazed crank has t’a say.
    Especially on a weekend.

    OK if theres a bit a craic t’be had. Fair enough.
    But times up on the blah blah bladdy blah .

    Get the vote out.

  14. Ger

    Breda o’Brien is wrong there are not two reasons to vote yes, there is only one ie. my daughter is a lesbian and, in my opinion, a better person than her, and should have the same rights as any other citizen. I do not genuinely understand what the problem is loving parents rear loving children irrespective of the genders of the parents or for that matter the children.

  15. JimmymacGringle

    The Irish Times circulation figures

    2006 116,950
    2009 114,488
    2011 96,150
    2013 84,201

    Also worth remembering the population between 2006 and 2011 increased by 340,000 to take the overall population to just under 4.6 million.

  16. Tony

    The tough, hard to admit reality for Irish Catholics is, the Church’s attitude IS homophobic, what it says about and how it treats homosexuals as less than humans who choose to be in a man/woman relationship is not at the human rights level we expect of modern states. A lot of people were brought up this way so just can’t accept an alternative, in a way it’s like the drug war, my parents are vehemently opposed to legalising marijuana yet they can’t give me a good reason why, it’s because society, culture and the media has told them since they were small it’s BAD, and never questioned the wisdom why. The tide has clearly changed on same-sex marriage, those still stuck in the old mindset feel like the world is falling apart and I look forward to voting for it as I predict most the country will.

  17. Tomboktu


    Archbishop of Dublin Dr Diarmuid Martin has said that some people in the Catholic Church may be homophobic.

    Speaking on RTE’s This Week, he said it was also possible that the teaching of the church could be used “in a homophobic way”.

    He said that the Church had to be very careful that in the forthcoming debate on the same sex referendum, that this was not done.

    Archbishop Martin said he felt that the debate had already got off to a bad start.

    “Debates on issues like this have to be carried out in a mature way so that people can freely express their views” while at the same time being respectful and not causing offence.

    He said that, “in general”, he believed that it was the person who was offended who defined what being offended is.

    “Anyone who grew up in Ireland would have told jokes that were pointed at the gay community; at Travellers; it is part of the culture we grew up in, but we have to grow out of it,” he said.

    He said that church teaching was that marriage was between a man and a woman, exclusively, but that this approach did not exclude gay people from celebrating their union by a different means.


    Which bits of that will Iona cite on its site during the week?

    1. deliverancecountry

      How does Diarmuid Martin marry ‘intrinsically disordered’ with ‘celebrating their union’? He also said we shouldn’t demonise the church, which was proper lulzy.

  18. Kevin Lyda

    A non-homophobic argument against marriage equality:

    The institution of marriage is a tool to enforce certain behaviour on each person based on their gender. This way we can have women do domestic work and child care duties while men can have real jobs and drive a good, moral society. Therefore marriage must be for opposite sex couples.

    See. A non-homophobic argument. It’s a sexist argument that utterly ignores that some women don’t want to be a primary care giver to children, that some men do and that some people just don’t want kids full stop.

    But not homophobic. So… win?

  19. Stephen Cummins

    Still not seeing why gay people should be prevented from marrying and raising children. This article has a lot of whining about how she’s being repressed while she writes in a national newspaper. Still not seeing the facts to back up her argument that “every child has a mother and father, and that legislating to make that irrefutable reality irrelevant needs major debate?”

    That it takes a sperm and an egg to make a baby is biology 101, why this means that the ideal way to raise a child well is by making the people who provided the egg and sperm do it does not stand up to scrutiny. Biological parents can be terribly unsuitable to raise a child for many reasons. And they may not want to raise the child together. Children need to be loved and nurtured, and that role can be taken by anyone. The church or state forcing an overly simplistic view of what the ideal family unit is ultimately harmful to those children.

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