Senator Rónán Mullen has said that more people in the world are targeted for their religion than their sexual orientation, and that the government should establish a special envoy for religious expression.
The remarks were made in the Seanad last week during a discussion about the “Zappone Gate” scandal.
“Appointments are being made because people have, shall we say, special privileges because they are in tune with the zeitgeist,” said Mullen.
“The rights of LGBT people worldwide are certainly important and need to be defended, particularly in countries where those rights are being abused. But the more obvious tried and trusted appointment to be made in this case would be a special envoy for freedom of religion and belief, under Article 18 of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”
Mullen went on to add that this should also extend to atheists and those people who don’t “have any belief.”
“Many more people are being persecuted in the world today because of their religion than are being so persecuted because of their sexual orientation,” he said.
Atheists are being persecuted by certain regimes because they do not have religious belief… It is not just Christians, though they are by far the most persecuted groups. There are others, including Muslims in various Muslim countries, Yazidis – it is a long list.”
The senator went on to add that such an envoy was already held by nations and bodies such as the EU, Britain, Germany, Italy, Hungary “and many others.”
“Is there any sign of a concept note on that issue from our diplomats?” he asked.
“They are well in tune with LGBT rights, and good luck to them, but priorities should always be priorities, and you cannot have the vindication of one group’s rights unless there is an equivalent interest in defending the rights of other groups.
“It is obvious in the eyes of other countries that freedom of religion and belief is one of the critical issues in the world today.
“I would like to see a greater level of interest from our government in appointing such an envoy,” he concluded.