'Sadly we are not there yet' - Fianna Fail councillor hopes 'coming out' publicly will encourage others to 'never fear being true to themselves'
A Fianna Fail councillor has revealed the pressure he felt to issue a statement over his sexual orientation as he believed the discussion "has become somewhat of a distraction".
South Roscommon councillor John Keogh wrote a lengthy post on Facebook stating that he "never really cared about whether people think I am straight, gay or bisexual".
"I have long believed that we all are born equal and that we should live in a society of equals where no person should ever suffer prejudice because of their race, creed, gender, sexual orientation or any other reason," he said.
However, despite the fact that he believed his sexual preference should be a "non story", he felt obliged to publicly come out as "sadly we are not there yet".
"For that reason, I want to comprehensively shutdown the rumour mills, once and for all, by publicly coming out as a member of the LGBT community," he said.
"I hope to see the day when a person’s sexual orientation is no longer considered to be something that people feel the need to make public declarations in respect of and that people can live their lives peacefully and free from stigma, intimidation, prejudice and indignation."
A solicitor based in Athlone, Mr Keogh recognised that young men and women often struggle with their sexual orientation, and said that there should be an education programme in schools "with a view to stamping out prejudice".
"I hope that by me publicly coming out today, it will highlight the lack of commitment from this government and previous ones to properly fund mental health services but more importantly I hope that it will encourage young men and women in my constituency to never fear being true to themselves and to come out if that is what they prefer or likewise to keep their private lives private if they so wish," he said.