Independent Irish Senator and human rights activist David Norris yesterday told the Irish Senate he believes gay cousins should be allowed to marry.

Speaking as the Marriage Bill 2015, the Bill that will legalize same-sex marriage in Ireland, was introduced to the Senate, Senator Norris stated, “It would not take a feather out of me if two cousins married each other.”

“What is the problem with that?’’

Recognizing that this may draw ridicule or criticism from what he termed “the grotesque Irish media,’’ he continued to say that the rules and regulations in place to prevent cousins from marrying each other were introduced so has to protect the genetic pool when a married couple would have children - a protection that would be relatively unneeded in the case of a same-sex couple.

READ MORE: David Norris attacks 1916 Easter Rising fighters as traitors.

Norris, a gay and civil rights activist since the 1970s, also spoke of the long struggle to reach a referendum on same-sex marriage in Ireland, and the struggle towards a “Yes” vote.

“When I started off, it was a world of hatred, contempt and silence,’’ he said.

“Gay people were regarded as sources of sin, crime and disease.’’

Now, however, he spoke of the transition that had taken place in Ireland and the growing positivity towards LGBT rights evident from the result of May’s referendum.

“I have heard so many moving stories of young people all over Ireland who have been given the courage for the first time to face the reality of their sexuality, come out, declare themselves and live their lives,’’ he said.

Well-spoken, larger-than-life, Joyce scholar Norris has long been applauded for his role as a gay activist, gaining cross-party praise from Senators.

On the introduction of the Marriage Bill 2015 to the Senate on Tuesday, he and fellow Senator Katherine Zappone were praised for their work by Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald.

Norris, in turn, praised the work of Fitzgerald and former Labour Party leader Eamon Gilmore on bringing the same-sex marriage referendum to the table.

He also recognized the support of the non-LGBT Irish public who supported the “Yes” campaign and recognized the strong cross-party political support, quipping that the referendum appeared to have a calming effect on political parties.

“Most particularly I want to thank the people of Ireland, because it was our co-citizens who voted this through in overwhelming numbers,’’ he said.

“The gay community simply could not have done this on their own.’

Speaking about their opponents in the “No” campaign, Senator Norris admitted that he could not be as forgiving as others.

“I am not a bit diplomatic . . . I am not political, they were absolutely ghastly,’’ he remarked.

Also speaking at the introduction of the Bill was Independent Senator Fidelma Healy-Eames who stood for the “No” campaign in May’s referendum.

She stated that while it was important to be tolerant of sexual difference it was also important that the same tolerance was shown to individual opinion.

She continued to say that Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Enda Kenny had shown the way in which he could be led by more powerful international politicians on issues such as this in the way in which he facilitated the referendum.

Hailed as one of the key figures in Ireland’s momentous and historic decision to allow same-sex marriage in Ireland in May 2015, 71-year-old Senator David Norris took legal cases against the Irish government in the early 1990s in a bid to decriminalize homosexuality.

The case, which went all the way to the European court of human rights, eventually led to the decriminalization of homosexuality by the Fianna Fáil-Labour government in 1993.

Criticized many times during his career by the Catholic Church, Norris is a practising Christian and a prominent member of the Church of Ireland.

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The independent Senator claims that there is no threat to the genetic pool from same-sex couples.Photocall Ireland