Green MSP Harvie challenges Catholic spokesman over 'gays die 20 years early' claim

MSP Patrick Harvie has issued an open letter challenging Peter Kearney, director of the Scottish Catholic Media Office, to justify his claim in an STV programme on same-sex marriage that “the life expectancy of a practising homosexual man will be reduced by something between 12 and 20 years”.

In the interests of trying to ensure that “the debate takes place in a context of accurate information”, Mr Harvie (pictured) challenged Mr Kearney to produce scientific data to back up his claim, adding: “I am sure you were not implying that poor health should be a legal barrier to marriage or civil partnership for anyone, regardless of their sexuality.”

Mr Harvie, a Green Party MSP and “the first openly bisexual party leader in … the United Kingdom‘ and an honorary associate of the National Secular Society, quoted Mr Kearney’s statement that: “We only need to imagine the complex infections, diseases and illnesses that are caused [by homosexuality].”

Mr Harvie said: “I hope that on reflection you can see the problem with this statement. The last thing we need is an approach based on our imagination, or on assumptions. We need an approach which is based on robust data if we’re going to accurately discuss issues of public health, whether in relation to sexuality or any other issue.”

• The full text of Mr Harvie’s letter can be seen on his website.