Actor Jeremy Irons Addresses Past Gay Marriage, Abortion Comments at Berlin Film Festival

Thursday February 20, 2020

Actor Jeremy Irons is the jury president of the 2020 Berlin International Film Festival, which kicks off Thursday, but started the event being confronted with past comments he's made about gay marriage and abortion, Variety reports.

When it was announced that the 71-year-old British actor would be part of the festival, German press began to circulate comments he made in 2011 regarding same-sex marriage and his views on abortion rights.

"I should like, not as the jury president, but on a personal level to address various comments that I have reportedly made in the past, and which have resurfaced in certain sections of the press over the past few weeks. I wish I didn't have to take up time with this, but I don't want it to continue as a distraction to the Berlinale," Irons said, according to Variety.

In a 2011 interview with the U.K.'s Radio Times, the "Watchmen" star was reportedly quoted saying that "if a man puts his hand on a woman's bottom, any woman worth her salt can deal with it."

"It's communication. Can't we be friendly?" he added.

Irons went on to to defend Church's position to call abortion a sin.

In a 2013 he sparked more controversy when he gave an interview with the Huffington Post and implied that the legalization of same-sex marriage would lead to fathers marrying their sons as a way to avoid inheritance taxes.

At the Berlin International Film Festival, Irons said he "already refuted and apologized for" his past remarks, saying he wanted to address the subjects of sexual abuse, same-sex marriage and abortion, Variety reports.

"Let me make my views this morning entirely clear on these particular subjects once and for all," he said. "Firstly, I support wholeheartedly the global movement to address the inequality of women's rights, and to protect them from abusive, damaging, and disrespectful harassment, both at home and in the workplace.

"Secondly, I applaud the legislation of same-sex marriage, wherever it has been attained, and I hope that such enlightened legislation will continue to spread into more and more societies," Irons went on to say. "And thirdly, I support wholeheartedly the right of women to have an abortion, should they so decide.

"These three human rights are, I believe, essential steps toward a civilized and humane society, for which we should all continue to strive," he said, according to Variety. "There are many parts of the world where these rights do not yet exist, where such ways of living lead to imprisonment, and even to death.

"I hope that some of the films we will be watching will address these problems, among many others we face in our world, and I look forward to watching films in this year's Berlinale which will provoke us to question attitudes, prejudices, and worldwide perceptions of life as we know it," he said. "I hope that's put my past comments to bed."

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