I recall Amnesty visiting our school when I was 11 or 12. I think I unnerved the visitor somewhat by asking whether their defence of human rights included protection for the unborn child. She explained that they stayed out of that debate - and in retrospect, one can understand why an organisation concerned with representing prisoners of conscience might steer clear of such a disputed and divisive issue in order to focus on their core mission. However, in recent times, Amnesty has dropped its neutrality on the issue of abortion.
(By the by, I should hope that it's obvious to readers involved in education that Amnesty should no longer be welcome in our Catholic schools.)
John Waters notes that Colm O'Gorman's statement on civil partnerships also represents a shift away from what used to be Amnesty's priorities:
WITHOUT ANYONE emphasising or questioning the shift, Amnesty International has gone in recent years from being an organisation devoted to the rights of prisoners-of-conscience in foreign jurisdictions to a lobby group concentrating selectively on ideological issues within the immediate jurisdictions in which it operates. I often wonder what its founders would have thought about this. I wonder, too, if people who stuff cash into the boxes of Amnesty’s street collectors are aware of the implications of what has occurred.What's also interesting is that Waters valiantly attempts to point out how O'Gorman and other gay rights activist try to (and in general succeed) to change the meaning of the concepts used in our national discourse in order to muddy the issue and demonise those who promote a traditional understanding of marriage and the family:
Twenty years ago, the idea of Amnesty lecturing the Irish Government in partisan terms on a matter on which there is democratic controversy would have been inconceivable. The old-style Amnesty considered human rights too vital to be mixed up with everyday political argumentation within democratic societies.
O’Gorman’s statement was laden with disingenuous constructions and weasel words. Amnesty is either arguing for gay marriage or it isn’t, but can’t have it both ways. The Bill does not discriminate against gay couples any more than unmarried heterosexual couples can claim to be “discriminated against” for similar reasons. In not dealing with the adoption of children at all, the legislation might be said to discriminate, in accordance with public policy, against both categories by comparison with married couples, but this is a false comparison. And nor does the legislation discriminate against adopted children being brought up in gay unions any more than against adopted children being brought up by unmarried parents who are not gay. It does not deal with adoption at all. O’Gorman’s reference to “the right not to be discriminated against because of who you love” is a piety designed to fudge the issue and bully the public.Of course, the question should be about what is meant by marriage and why it's an institution worthy of legal recognition.
The gay lobby has made its case by mangling the meaning of terms such as “marriage” and “discrimination”, and by bullying with accusations of “homophobia” and “bigotry” anyone who refuses to acquiesce in the new definitions.
Marriage, a contract between a man and a woman, is an institution maintained by society for reasons having little or nothing to do with “love”. All men and all women have a right to marry, provided they wish to marry members of the opposite sex to whom they are not closely related by blood. Heterosexuals, like homosexuals, are prohibited from marrying people of their own sex. It is no more valid to allege wrongful discrimination in this context against gays than to argue that cycle lanes “discriminate” wrongfully against wheelbarrows.Now, that statement needs a lot of unpacking, and it probably says a lot about the quality of catechesis in Ireland that not many of the decision makers in our society are willing or capable of doing this.