Irish gay rights campaigner: I went 40 years without sex

A gay rights campaigner has revealed he went 40 years without sex because he was afraid of bringing disgrace on the movement for equality.

Irish Senator David Norris has revealed how he “lived the life of a bloody nun” during his long fight for equality, because at the time having sex with another man was a criminal offence in Ireland.

David Norris started his fight for equal rights back in the 1970s, facing constant discrimination during his long battle for equality.

His bid to decriminalise homosexuality was first defeated in 1980, first in the Irish High Court, followed by a failed appeal to the Supreme Court.

The campaign’s efforts were eventually rewarded in 1988, when Senator Norris won a ground breaking case in the European Court against the Irish State, over the constitutional status of homosexual acts.

Same-sex activity in Ireland was eventually decriminalised in June 1993.

Mr Norris described the effects his long battle for equality had on his personal life and the sacrifices his was forced to make in order to ensure he would be taken seriously by his rivals.

“For 40 years I didn’t even enter a public lavatory in Dublin, any sort of indiscretion on my part would’ve been highlighted by the media,” Norris told The Irish Mirror.

“In those days the most dangerous thing was to be noticed, to be known as gay, you couldn’t afford it.

“Your job, your friends, your status and your livelihood would be gone.”

Many have credited Norris with laying the foundations for the equality movement in Ireland and paving the way for the country’s LGBT community to make the huge strides necessary to achieve equal rights – including the recent marriage referendum.

Describing his delight Ireland’s legalisation of same-sex marriage, he said: “It was the end of a very long process, a 40-year struggle and to make that journey was quite extraordinary.

“There were no people out at all in my day, homosexuality was a word which would stop conversation in a polite society. I was seen as a criminal and an outsider,” he said.

“To go from that to seeing everyone so happy – grandparents, husbands, wives, parents – is wonderful.

“I get great satisfaction seeing young people happy together, positive and contributing to life.”

Earlier this week, the Irish Parliament successfully passed a progressive new gender recognition law.

The Gender Recognition will see sweeping changes made, in order to allow transgender people to gain legal recognition without seeing a doctor or getting medical treatment.