Oscar-winning actor Jeremy Irons has sparked outrage by suggesting that same sex marriage could lead to incest between fathers and sons, fearing it will "debase" marital law.
In an interview with the Huffington Post the 64-year-old actor, who stated that he didn’t “have a strong feeling either way” on the subject, mused: “Could a father not marry his son?”
When the interviewer reminded Irons about incest laws, the actor continued: "It's not incest between men," adding: "Incest is there to protect us from inbreeding, but men don't breed".
His remarks were branded “bizarre” by lesbian, gay and bisexual charity Stonewall.
Referring to Irons’ role as Pope Alexander VI in 2011 television series The Borgias, a Stonewall spokesmen told The Independent: "Few people will agree with Jeremy Irons’ bizarre 'concerns' about equal marriage.”
“Sadly his comments do seem to indicate he's taken his role as a Pope in The Borgias a little too seriously."
In the same interview Irons said he wishes “everybody who is living with one other person the best of luck in the world because it's fantastic,” adding: “Living with another animal, whether it be a husband or a dog, is great.”
Irons, who has been married to the actress Sinead Cusack for 34 years, also entered the debate on civil partnership versus same sex marriage, saying: “It seems to me that now they're fighting for the name. I worry that it means somehow we debase, or we change, what marriage is. I just worry about that."
It is not the first time Irons has made controversial remarks during an interview. In February he revealed that as a young actor he had to fend off the advances of older men and defended an earlier interview in the Radio Times in which he said “any woman worth her salt can deal with [being patted on the bottom].”
Speaking to the Times newspaper, Irons claimed his remarks about bottom patting were “misquoted”, explaining: “I love touching. I always touch people. I don’t think I said ‘bottom’ [in the Radio Times interview] but of course I was misquoted. Basically, I said that any self-respecting woman would tell you to f*** off [if she minded].”
He went on to explain: “I think we’re very robust as human beings. I had people when I was younger trying to feel me up. Older men. I just told them to get lost.”
The Radio Times journalist, Andrew Duncan, who conducted the "bottom patting" interview two years ago, says he stands by his quotes: “I am surprised Jeremy Irons continues to insist he was 'of course misquoted' in a 2011 interview I wrote for the Radio Times, particularly as I sent him a tape of the interview and a transcript after he complained that he didn't say 'any woman worth her salt' can cope with a man putting his hand on her behind."