Ireland’s former President Mary McAleese to march at Pride ‘with my gay son and his wonderful husband’

Ireland’s former President Mary McAleese has said she plans to march at Pride for the first time – with her gay son and his husband.

The former President of Ireland, a practising Catholic, has become an advocate for LGBT rights over the past few years – coming out in favour of equal marriage in 2012 and vocally backing it in the country’s referendum on same-sex marriage.

McAleese, who has spoken out recently to challenge homophobia in the Catholic Church, this week confirmed she plans to take part in the Dublin Pride march on June 30.

The theme for the Pride event is ‘We Are Family’, and the ex-President has clearly taken it to heart, explaining that  most of her extended family plans to attend the Pride march.

According to the Irish Independent, she told a conference she would be going  to support “my gay son [Justin McAleese] and his wonderful husband.”

Former President of Ireland Mary McAleese (Brian Lawless – WPA Pool/Getty)

The former President’s husband, siblings and other children will be attending – and her 87-year-old mother is even hoping to attend in a wheelchair.

She said: “We are family and that is what we will be showcasing – showcasing Ireland at its absolute best.”

McAleese was speaking at a conference organised by We Are Church Ireland, a liberal group that advocates for LGBT rights within the Church.

We Are Church recently called for the Pope to take a more inclusive stance towards gay families – after he insisted “the family [as] man and woman in the image of God is the only one.”

Mary McAleese (White Houser/Pete Souza)

Brendan Butler, We Are Church spokesperson, said: “We Are Church Ireland is appalled and alarmed at the most recent comments made by Pope Francis about LGBTQI families.

“This exclusion from and further marginalisation of LGBTQI families in the life of the Catholic Church by Pope Francis leaves us with very little hope that LGBTQI families will be included as equal participants at the forthcoming World Meeting of Families being held in Dublin next August.

“Unless LGBTQI families are included in this World Meeting it will be seen as a contradiction of Gospel values. This reinforcement of anti – LGBTQI attitudes and the refusal to recognise LGBTQI families as true Catholic families by Pope Francis will be treated with incredulity and dismay by the Catholic faithful.

“Pope Francis should meet with and listen to LGBTQI families experiences of loving family life.”

McAleese previously hit out at homophobia and misogyny within the Church.

Former Irish President Mary McAleese with her husband Martin McAleese (Oli Scarff/Getty)

She said: “A Church that is homophobic and anti-abortion is not the church of the future.”

“The Catholic Church is one of the last great bastions of misogyny. It’s an empire of misogyny.”

“God gave us two wings so that humanity could soar to great heights and feel the power and see the beauty of his creation in all its wonder.

“Yet our Church insists on flying on one wing, overlooking and wasting the talents and insights of so many wonderful, faithful, Godly women. Why? Can this tragic dysfunction really be what God wants? I think not. Let us now begin to imagine a completely different future.”

She added: “Our thinking, the world’s thinking, about homosexuality is changing.

“The sheer weight of medical evidence, the sheer weight of psychiatric evidence now is challenging views that were formed, you could say, in ignorance, and I think they will change over time.

“They’ve already changed elsewhere and we’ve seen in many, many countries now embracing the idea that homosexuality is a perfectly normal human sexual expression and that it is, as it has been thought in the past, a skewed, or in the words of the church, the rather regrettable words of the church – when I think back to what Benedict has written about it when he described it as ‘intrinsically disordered’.

“Many of us do not believe it to be ‘intrinsically disordered’ but believe it to be a perfectly normal human adaptation.”

Ireland’s current Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Leo Vadakar is openly gay and has vowed to keep up momentum to liberalise on LGBT rights in the country.