Belfast Telegraph

Ex-Ireland president Mary McAleese haunted by a dad's hatred for gay son

Former Irish president Mary McAleese is still haunted by a letter she received from a father describing his gay son as "evil", she revealed yesterday.

Ms McAleese, whose son Justin is also gay, said the letter kept her awake at night and that she was concerned for the young man.

"I worry about that young man's mental health, for not all human beings have the coping skills to emerge safely and mentally well from such a toxic home environment - some do, some don't," Mrs McAleese added.

Speaking at the launch of a report on the mental health of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people, showing that high levels of suicidal thoughts and self-harm by teenagers who are bullied for their sexuality, the former president urged parents, teachers, school governors and politicians to heed its findings.

"Take it to their heart and make it their vocation to do whatever it takes to end this tragic and unnecessary waste of young lives," she added.

It reveals a "secret world of suffering," said Ms McAleese.

Last year, the former head of state, who is originally from Ardoyne in west Belfast, said her son went through "torture" when he discovered what his Church taught about homosexuality.

Justin McAleese (31) came out as gay to his family and friends 10 years ago.

He campaigned for a Yes vote in the Republic's same-sex marriage referendum last year and revealed his experience of growing up as a gay man.

He said that he was on the verge of coming out publicly when a former Ulster Unionist advisor to David Trimble, Steven King, married his boyfriend in Canada.

However, he said he delayed this after hearing Ian Paisley Junior describing the relationship as "immoral, offensive and obnoxious".

Mr Paisley later told Mr McAleese he needs to "get over it".

"I mean, seriously, all of this stuff where people are self-absorbed about their own gender and how everything is about them. Most people are kind of fed up with it.

"They want to live and let live. Get over it. Get over yourself," he told the Irish Times last April.

Independent News Service

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph