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David Norris takes on Russia Today presenter over gay rights

It was a lively discussion to say the least…

Source: WorldsApaRT/YouTube

SENATOR DAVID NORRIS has appeared on Russian television condemning the country’s anti-gay ‘propaganda’ laws.

Norris was a guest on ‘Worlds Apart’ yesterday, a current affairs programme on TV station Russia Today (RT).

He went head-to-head with presenter Oksana Boyko on several issues, including the Russian law that bans ‘homosexual propaganda‘.

Norris compared the law to one passed by Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s, describing Russia as “30 years behind Europe”.

Boyko told Norris: “The issue of LGBT rights is not a straightforward one in Russia, homosexuality is not criminalised here but there is indeed a very strong societal pressure to keep it to yourself.”

She also questioned people who promote homosexual “normancy”.

He replied by saying that gay people should not have to hide their true identities.

When Boyko said that Western-style LGBT advocacy is often very “in-your-face” and “flamboyant”, Norris told exception, saying:

Let me stop you there … You’ve just told me that I’m abnormal.

norris rt stop Source: Screengrab/YouTube

Gay people are a part of nature, they are a reality. They are normal people within their own terms.

Presidential race

Later in the interview, Boyko said: “Let’s admit that ‘homosexuality in classical Greece’ controversy cost you the presidential nomination a few years ago.”

She was referencing Norris briefly leaving the 2011 Irish presidential race after it emerged that he wrote a letter asking for clemency for his former partner Ezra Yizhak Nawi, who was convicted of the statutory rape of a 15-year-old boy in 1997.

He later rejoined the race, finishing fifth.

Norris refuted her claims, stating: “I’m not having you tell lies, that did not cost me the election.”

He said that his campaign did not succeed due to lies published in the media, noting he has already won four libel actions and that a number are still ongoing.

Cutting his response short, Boyko said that the show had an international audience and asked him not to “burden them with the particulars of Irish campaigns”.

Norris said that Ireland is not an anti-gay country, and he believed the Russian people were not homophobic either.

I’m not trying to impose my views on anybody, particularly not by force – unlike Russia.

Norris has served in the Seanad since 1987, making him the first openly-gay person to be elected to public office in Ireland. He was one of the driving forces that saw homosexuality decriminalised here in 1993.

A referendum on Marriage Equality is due to take place here next year, with opinion polls showing the majority of people will support it.

Read: Russian foreign minister defends anti-gay legislation

Read: Norris: election of gay president would ‘signal something very important’

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Órla Ryan

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