In a move that will no doubt surprise many, Diarmuid Martin, the Archbishop of Dublin, recently made a series of seemingly progressive statements about homosexuality while talking to the Irish Independent.
The Archbishop stated that "anybody who doesn't show love towards gay and lesbian people is insulting God. They are not just homophobic if they do that – they are actually Godophobic because God loves every one of those people." He also said that God "never created anybody that he doesn't love."
These statements, amongst others, come hot on the heels of the much reported 'Pantigate' controversy. Rory O'Neill, a gay Irishman better known for his drag persona 'Panti Bliss', recently came under fire after he suggested that certain members of the Irish media were homophobic on Irish television's 'Saturday Night Show'. Several of those mentioned threatened the broadcaster RTE, the most watched channel in Ireland, with legal action and soon afterwards RTE responded by apologising, removing Panti's interview from their site, and by paying those mentioned by O'Neill a sum totalling €85,000.
Aside from the fact that the journalists referred to by O'Neill patently are homophobic - one of them, John Waters, has previously suggested that gay people do not actually want to be married, but simply wish to "destroy the institution of marriage because they’re envious of it" - the entire debacle has lead to heated criticism of RTE for what has come to be seen as 'giving in' to the bigots.
Fast forward a month, and we arrive at Archbishop Martin's soothing words of inclusion for the LGBT community in Ireland. Unfortunately, some people simply don't know how to quit while they're ahead.
Following on from his words of love the Archbishop then quipped "just because a person isn't in favour of gay marriage doesn't mean that one is homophobic – let's be very clear on that."
Err... yes, it does.
There is simply no argument against the proliferation of rights for non-heterosexuals that does not originate from some form of antipathy towards homosexuality or gay people themselves.
There are those, like Archbishop Martin, who would have you believe that simply because they are not roaming the streets at night, searching for gay people to harass and assault, they are not homophobic. And sure - perhaps they genuinely do not hate individual homosexual people as individuals. Perhaps they do share friendly chats over the garden fence and cards at Christmas with gay people they know.
But how can one believe that gay people don't deserve equal marriage rights without believing that gay relationships are on some level of less value than their heterosexual counterparts? How can you fight to deny gay people the right to adopt children if you don't also believe that gay couples are incapable of competent parenting (despite evidence to the contrary)?
The fact is, any opposition to legal equality for gay people constitutes homophobia. Be diligent, and remember - very often, homophobia will greet you with a smile and a handshake.