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Gay teen sex scandal shocks Ireland

uk.gay.com, March 5, 2007

The Irish press are currently whipping up a soufflé of old fashioned homophobia, sensationalism and thoughtless scare mongering. It all started when a 14-year old boy was caught having sex with older men that he'd met through Gaydar. The boy hails from Swords, an unforgiving suburb on the north side of the city of Dublin.

His mother went through his mobile phone messages and found saucy texts from a number of men whose numbers were saved in the phone. She went straight to the local police station and made a complaint.

The police launched an investigation and interviewed the boy on a number of occasions. He told detectives that he was in contact with in excess of six men and admitted to sex with at least two but made it clear that it all the liaisons were consensual.

Police seized his phone and computer and identified at least eight men who had been in touch with him.

It has transpired that the boy logged onto Gaydar in an effort to make gay friends, and possibly, like most teenagers, through sexual frustration.

He claims to have hooked up with two men and that on one occasion he romped at home while his parents were away. Two men in their 40s - a language lecturer from north county Dublin and a truck driver from Rathfarnham - were arrested and have admitted having sexual relations with the boy but deny they were ever in his house.

Unsurprisingly, the ugly scenario has left the boy traumatised, despite the fact that his family claim to be loving and supportive. The lurid headlines, and the ensuing embarrassment for the boy has ensured that he's refusing to co-operate with the police any further.

He is currently undergoing counselling to get through the ordeal and has been visited by a child psychologist.

The Sunday Tribune decided to tackle the issue with the sensitivity of a drunken ape -- they set up a false profile on Gaydar to entrap gay men and whip up public concern. The article was titled 'Open Season on Irish Teens' and charts the communication that occurred when the publication used Gaydar to pose as 15-year-old 'Davey'.

According to the Tribune "their astonishing stories of depravity reveal the predators' methods".

The article raises a number of issues, none of which the publication chooses to explore. Yes, sex with a minor is illegal, but 15 is not 11 and paedophilia is defined as 'being sexually attracted to children'.

It shouldn't be forgotten that this would be a non-story in Denmark, France, Greece or Poland, where the age of consent is 15. It would prove even less sensational in Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Estonia, Portugal or Iceland where the age of consent is 14. In Spain you can have gay sex at 13 and in Malta, the age of consent is 12.

While it's possible that a 15-year old might be very vulnerable, they can also be very manipulative, wily and violent. There are many adults, including gay men, who would feel physically threatened if a male teenager approached them on the street.

In June of last year, Dubin's gay scene was plagued by a gang of violent, homophobic teenagers who terrorised the city for months. The Tribune's projections of 'preying paedophiles' is nothing but lazy journalism.

Despite Dublin's European pretensions, it has neither the weather nor the temperament of its more liberal sisters overseas. Quite frankly, Dublin isn't the greatest place to be gay ... and I should know, both my parents are Irish.

The undercover operation by The Sunday Tribune may have uncovered some unsavoury characters, but the overall implication is that Gaydar is a hot bed of kiddy fiddlers and gay men can't be trusted near as playground.

While they trumpet the fact that 'Davey' received 40 messages from obviously careless and downright stupid men, they neglect to mention that a 35-yr-old might equally receive as many messages if his profile featured a picture of his enormous penis.

This style of reporting does nothing but demonise gay men and fuel homophobia. This hateful climate merely creates a society where teenagers feel unable to broach their sexuality with their parents, peers or teachers ... so wind up on gay dating sites trying to make friends.

Gay teenagers have sexual urges, just like their straight counterparts, yet somehow this is seen as unpalatable and too complex to deal with, so it's ignored by everyone. Yes, teenage sexuality is a moral minefield, but if it didn't exist, the UK wouldn't have the highest rate of teenage pregnancy in Europe.

The case of the boy in Sword seems to indicate that while he was looking to sexually experiment, he was unable to talk to his family. His mother was obviously fearful for her son's safety, but it's quite possible he'll never trust her again.

No teenager would want their mother reading flirty text messages, nor want to be marched to the police station to discuss their sex life. You wouldn't want to go through that as a confident adult, let alone as a twitching 14-yr-old.

There's little doubt that the boy will be scarred for life following this incident and it's not the fault of Gaydar, or the men who foolishly hooked up with him. It's not even the fault of his loving but horrified mother.

That boy from Sword will suffer long-term damage because anti-gay sentiments are rife in the playground and schools in the UK and Ireland have yet to teach children that it's okay to be gay.

Until then, gay teenagers will continue to be two to three times more likely to commit suicide than their classmates...and more likely to be putting themselves at risk by seeking sex with much older men -- either online or in cruising grounds. I should know, I used to do it myself.

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