FINE GAEL TD Jerry Buttimer has become the first party member to come out after a new forum was launched for gay equality.
“I am a TD who just happens to be gay – it is just one little composition of the story that is me and I will continue to be the politician I was yesterday,” he told the Irish Examiner.
“I have got great support from my family and friends and from the wider community. I’m a politician. I’m a gay person, it’s a part of me, it is not who I am,” he said.
Mr Buttimer said that the creation of a new forum to push for gay equality issues, backed by Taoiseach Enda Kenny, gave him an appropriate moment to speak about his private life.
He is chairman of the new FG lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender group and is the third elected TD to come out as gay in the past year.
Labour politicians Dominic Hannigan (Meath East ) and John Lyons (Dublin North West) both won their seats in last year’s general election and said their sexuality was never an issue in their campaigns.
Speaking on Newstalk radio today: “Fine Gael has broad base of support and I made a decision that I would be out as a public representative.
“We all have a journey in life and decisions to make, and in my case, after listening to the Taoiseach speaking on the Cloyne report in July, I made a decision that to have credibility this would be the right thing to do.”
He said the group was formed out of a number of people coming together.
“We wanted to provide a forum and outlet for people, and we had our inaugural event on Saturday night in Dublin. People want the party to show initiative not just on gay rights, but on human rights and social justice,” he said.
“Support from friends and family has been very positive. It is not easy for everyone to do what I have done today, and one of the events that prompted me was getting a call from a mother last summer whose son was badly bullied because he was gay. She had heard a rumour that I was gay and called me and I went and met him.
“We need to look to Ireland as a more gentle and inclusive country where we are all cherished equally.”
Responding to a question about why there was so few openly gay TDs in Ireland he said: “I think it is changing. It is a matter for each individual. Being gay is just one part of who I am. I am a brother, a son, a school teacher. I chose to come out and to be credible with the constitution convention.”