Irish voters cast their ballots for president on Thursday, but because of the country’s complex electoral system the winner might not be announced until Saturday. But Senator David Norris, the openly gay former Trinity College professor, has seen his chances at nabbing the office dwindle. Initially a front runner, recent polls have placed Norris in fourth place with his popularly largely confined to Dublin.
Norris rose to prominence in the 1980s by leading the charge to decriminalize homosexuality in Ireland (a battle he won in 1993). But his eccentric character has landed him in hot water more than once.
His excoriation of the Catholic Church has made him enemies in the largely Catholic nation—he called Pope John Paul “instrument for evil ” and Pope Benedict “a Nazi.”
More troubling with voters and supporters, though, are his views on sex with minors: In a 2002 interview, Norris seemed to endorse abolishing any minimum age of consent, saying instead people should “be inclined to draw lines for themselves.” In the same article, he opined that there’s “something [to be said]” for pedophilia, “as practiced by the Greeks… where it is an elder man introducing a younger man to adult life.” And the revelation that Norris wrote letters on parliamentary notepaper asking for clemency for his ex-boyfriend—who was convicted of raping a 15-year-old boy in Israel— cost him key endorsements. Norris actually withdrew from the race in July but re-entered just last month.
Europe may soon elect another gay leader, but it’ll take more than the luck of the Irish for it to be David Norris.