David Patrick Bernard Norris (born 1 July 1944) is an Irish civil rights campaigner, former university lecturer, and longtime member of Seanad Éireann (the Irish Senate). He is the founder of the Campaign for Homosexual Law Reform. He is a prominent member of the Church of Ireland.
David Norris was the first openly gay person to be elected to public office in Ireland. A resident of North Great George's Street in Dublin, he is a member of the Irish Georgian Society and is an active campaigner for the preservation of Irish Georgian buildings. Senator Norris is also a well-known James Joyce scholar, and plays a large part in Dublin's annual Bloomsday celebrations. Senator Norris's razor-sharp wit has made him a popular figure in modern Irish political life.
Norris was born in Leopoldville in the Belgian Congo. When his father died, Norris, then a small child, went to Ireland for the first time. Norris' cousins came to meet him when he arrived by ship into Dublin. Norris has spoken of the disappointment on the faces of his cousins when they discovered that their 'African' cousin was not black.
Norris is a Louis Armstrong fan. He is a strong critic of both loyalist and republican terrorism. He has spoken of the unease he felt as a youngster about the identification of being Irish without being Catholic. Norris has been seen to observe controversial Orange marches in Northern Ireland on behalf of the Republic of Ireland.
Norris represents the graduates of University of Dublin in Seanad Éireann, the Irish Senate. Norris describes himself as a human rights activist and he has campaigned against some of the actions of the United States during its early 21st century war on terror, including the confinement of suspected terrorists in Guantanamo Bay.
Norris took a case to the Supreme Court of Ireland in 1983 in an attempt to have the law against homosexual acts struck down. He failed, with the Court split decision of 3-2. Norris's argument had been that this law, dating back to when Ireland was part of the United Kingdom, was repugnant to the Irish constitution. This law was repealed in 1993.
Norris attended school at St. Andrew's College. He then entered Trinity College, Dublin to read for the degree of B.A. in English Language and Literature, where he was elected the first Foundation Scholar in that subject before achieving a 1st Class Moderatorship and editing Icarus (magazine). He remained at Trinity as a Lecturer and College Tutor between 1968 and 1996.
In the media
Most possibly due to his wit, he is frequently invited to participate in humorous shows (generally on RTÉ 2) and has appeared on The Podge & Rodge Show, The Panel, Living with Lucy and Anonymous among others.
- Council of Europe Travelling Scholarship
- Walter Wormser Harris Prize
- Foundation Scholarship in English Literature and Language
- Nominated for European Human Rights Prize
- Mr. David Patrick Bernard Norris. Oireachtas Members Database. Retrieved on 2008-02-17.
- O'Doherty, Ian (2007 October 12), “Hey Ireland - God really hates you”, Irish Independent, <http://www.independent.ie/opinion/columnists/ian-odoherty/hey-ireland--god-really-hates-you-1164955.html>. Retrieved on 31 October 2007