“I am a gay man.”
Almost as soon as the words were out of Leo Varadkar’s mouth, you could hear the dog whistles beginning.
Dog-whistle politics - the art of saying something that has an additional significance or resonance for a target group – is nothing new.
It’s a favoured trick of those who would oppress others.
And given their pronouncements in the wake of Leo’s coming-out party, the anti-marriage equality campaign is entirely based on it.
They want to talk about children.
And only about children.
Because they want you to think that gay people are a danger to children.
They want you to think that gay people are paedophiles, because people who hear that dog whistle and believe it are not likely to vote for marriage equality.
They don’t care about the fact that there is no evidence to back up their smears.
Or the fact that in some cases academic research actually shows that children in same-sex families fare as well as, if not better than, kids in their mammy-daddy-two-point-four-children-saying-the-rosary fantasy.
They want you to believe that not only are gay people paedophiles, but that they choose to be that way.
And if they’re given the chance, they will convince any children in their care to grow up to be gay too.
Because people who hear that dog whistle about the gay-paedo-recruiter and believe that being gay is a choice are more likely to vote no to equal status for people they believe to be evil, conniving paedophiles intent on increasing their numbers.
There is a twisted logic to all this, of course; the very people who hear these dog whistles and want you to believe that gay people are paedophiles (which they’re not) are big fans of the Catholic Church.
Who, of course, are famous around the world for moving actual paedophiles around to keep them out of prison, allowing them to abuse more children in the process.
The only way to counteract the dog-whistles is to call the religious hounds to heel by metaphorically rubbing their noses in their own anti-gay do-do.
Every time the anti-equality side brings up the issue, they should be asked the question – why are you trying to portray gay people as a danger to children?
If the question is asked, politely and persistently, there are only two possible answers.
The first is that, contrary to appearances, they don’t believe they are a danger to children, which of course negates every child-related argument that comes thereafter.
In other words, their bark a lot worse than their bite.
Or they show their true colours – that they suffer from an irrational fear of, or aversion to, gay people.
In short, they are homophobes.
And no amount of trying to smear gay people as a danger to children can ever hide that fact.