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Keane's courageous stance on human rights

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Amartya Sen: human rights

Amartya Sen: human rights

Amartya Sen: human rights

* Billy Keane (Irish Independent, February 24) is to be lauded for his courageous stance regarding the inalienable human rights of homosexuals. Amartya Sen, a Nobel prize laureate, has long been an advocate for the inextricable link between human rights and capabilities. This idea has had a magnetic appeal for hundreds of thousands of people throughout centuries from rebelling against communism to resisting the yoke of slavery, occupation and inhumane conditions.

In the midst of diverse interpretations and conflicting opinions, homosexuals have been used by tyrannies as a smokescreen to mask the ethnic and social chasm in their societies.

It is dispiriting that homosexuality is still a taboo across the five continents. Lesbians are raped as a corrective measure, being treated as women who suffer from sexual starvation. Gays are often beaten, dragged, detained, murdered, doused with urine, pelted with eggs and, in many cases, admitted to hospitals, all to treat them from their homosexuality disorder.

I am not a homosexual but it is abhorrent that the church is still discriminating against homosexuals. There is a pioneering idea, which has been used with some success in Latin America, to promote the human rights of the marginalised and disenfranchised in society, spark national conversation and spur social change on a mass scale.

Puntos, a feminist and non-governmental organisation in Nicaragua, used soap operas, radios and local newspapers to disseminate educational and health knowledge, democratise the debate and encompass cacophonous individual voices.

Research by Middlesex University showed that strategy to be effective in breaking stereotypes and fostering the appreciation of diversity. Most importantly, it emphasised the moral appeal of human right.

DR MUNJED FARID AL QUTOB

CHARTLEY AVENUE, LONDON, NW2 7QY

ACTION ON HOMELESSNESS

* We in TRUST are neither surprised nor shocked to hear of the man sleeping in a bin and miraculously saved (Irish Independent, February 22). We provide on a daily basis a most basic service in a tiny premises for up to 40 men and women. These men and women sleep rough in squats, tents, cars, parks, bins, flimsy sleeping bags in shop doorways – all unimaginable spaces in our capital city and beyond.

The majority are penniless and a few get a bed from time to time. Their physical and psychological conditions and personal stories are horrendous. All carry their possessions on their person and the pain of living is clearly deeply etched on their faces.

In a given month we meet people from 18 to 26 different countries – like many of our own Irish who moved to cities here or abroad a generation ago to work and send money back home. Many of those we meet had a dream of a better future; the dream never materialised and they now are ashamed to go home, some too proud to tell their story, their privacy all they have.

The situation is worse in my experience of working in the field for over 40 years and this for many reasons. This too at a time when a lot of money was made available to address the problem. We have for years been raising our concerns about the lack of good, basic emergency shelter, a first step at least. There has been and continues to be reluctance to accept this fact at all levels.

The time of talking shops is long over and it is time to accept that there is a crisis – "a time of intense difficulty or danger" from my Oxford Dictionary – when is a crisis not a crisis?

The quick-thinking young man who heard the cry for help and pressed the red button and saved a life deserves all our gratitude.

ALICE LEAHY

DIRECTOR & CO-FOUNDER

TRUST, BRIDE ROAD, DUBLIN 8

A 'VOICE' FOR CHANGE

* Sometimes the remedy to a problem may be so simple that we fail to see it. I think it's fair to say that most, if not all, of our prisons are badly overcrowded. Building more prisons would be very expensive, especially as our little country is broke – so say our politicians. So in order to prevent any more criminals going to jail, here is a very simple solution.

Instead of them receiving a jail sentence, lock them in a small room alone for an eight-hour period and continuously play the recordings of 'The Voice' from the Helix.

They should be strapped in a chair and made not only to watch but to listen to every word spoken from the presenter, to the judges, to those on stage. I know for certain if any of the offenders were threatened that if they ever committed another crime they would be forced to listen again to this programme, they would immediately change their ways.

Having watched last week's attempt and listening to the judges, I am finding it hard to recover myself.

Mr Shatter, here is your chance to do something that the whole country would applaud you for – bring in the law to have criminals punished in this way. This is your chance, don't lose it, do it for Ireland and its innocent people. No one should be made suffer this torture every Sunday evening.

FRED MOLLOY

DUBLIN 15

MORAL HIGH GROUND

* The recent media-driven campaign for so-called free speech just doesn't ring true. Where was all this outrage and concern for free speech a few months ago when several politicians lost their jobs and were subject to vilification on the abortion question?

It seems to me that the bandying about of the "homophobic" mantra is the result of a real fear that the case for same-sex marriage is not standing up to rational examination.

A number of recent debates in particular involving David Quinn and Paddy Manning (a homosexual man who opposes same-sex marriage) have exposed the serious flaws in the proposal.

Despite his excellent debating skills, it is easy for the usual suspects to denigrate Mr Quinn's Catholicism, etc; this is not so easy in the case of the excellent Mr Manning.

The latter speaks eloquently and wittily for the many homosexuals who themselves oppose same-sex marriage. It can just as easily be argued that those who denigrate Mr Manning's views on the subject are themselves guilty of "homophobia"!

So let's keep the debate clean and don't assume that the moral high ground belongs to one side only.

ERIC CONWAY

NAVAN, CO MEATH

SUICIDE PREVENTION

* The launch of a free-call connect number by the National Office for Suicide Prevention in conjunction with the Samaritans (Irish Independent, February 20) is to be welcomed. Your editorial on the same day says "suicide is such a serious issue that it cannot be left to well-meaning amateurs".

However, we should not fool ourselves that just because a counsellor is fully vetted and trained, that everything is hunky dory. Part of the problem is the various schools of psychotherapy, each practitioner claiming their method of treatment is the bee's knees. For instance, the thinking behind and delivery of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Psychodynamic Therapy couldn't be more different but each therapist could say their particular therapy could help someone with depression.

While I have undergone years of one-to-one counselling, what really helped me get to the source of my problems was holotropic breathwork, a treatment many professional therapists would pour scorn on.

The mind is a complex entity and what may work for one person may be totally unsuitable for someone else. The sad reality is that even in a totally regulated arena, it's still very much a case of "buyer beware" when someone goes looking for a suitable therapy. As Gerry Ranelagh of the Office of Suicide Prevention says: "People should go to trusted sources and have a healthy scepticism."

THOMAS RODDY

SALTHILL, GALWAY

Irish Independent