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Graham Norton's verdict on RTE, Panti and homophobia

The BBC star pulls no punches in an incendiary Hot Press interview.

The Hot Press Newsdesk, 19 Feb 2014

Graham Norton has lashed the national broadcaster RTÉ for its stance on the homophobia controversy.

Speaking to Hot Press, in an exclusive interview, to be published in the magazine on Thursday, February 20, the Irish-born BBC chat show king talks frankly about the recent Saturday Night Show 'homophobia' controversy, berates RTÉ for settling out of court and attacks 'the lunatic fringe' and 'rats trapped in the corner of the barn' that are opposing gay marriage.

"I'm not registered to vote in Ireland but I do pay the licence fee there and I'm fucking furious that some of my money has gone to these idiots," he asserts. "RTÉ settling wasn't gutless, it was absolutely moronic!"

Norton expresses his disappointment that gay marriage opponents here decided to go the legal route rather than examining why they might be accused - rightly or wrongly - of homophobia.

"I want to ask these people, 'Why are you so scared and intimidated by the idea of gay marriage?'" he says. "There's nothing positive in their life; what drives them is fear. They love using language - they're 'pro-this' but actually they're just against stuff. It's a really horrible, sucking the joy out of life attitude, so you feel sorry for them."

In a powerful and frequently polemical interview, the full text of which will appear in the new issue of Hot Press, Norton talks about growing up gay in West Cork - and argues that those opposing gay marriage are totally out of touch with attitudes in the new Ireland.

"I pretty much spend my entire summer near to where I grew up in Bandon," the broadcaster says. "It's such a different place. It takes pride in accepting all types of people. There's more than 40 shades of green. This tiny minority can yell all they want, but it's over. It's all done. The Iona Institute, and people like that, are like rats trapped in the corner of a barn. They know the jig is up. That's why they're screaming so loud."

Norton explains that he has no desire to walk down the aisle himself. "Personally, I don't want to get married, but if you do want to get married, knock yourself out," he says, before embarking on a colourful, x-rated summation of just how silly the opposition to gay marriage is.

He also believes the right-wing Christian brigade have made a serious miscalculation. "I'm actually glad that these journalists and the Iona Institute exist," he tells Hot Press. "The great thing about extremists is that they drag everyone towards the centre. That's why they exist. You hear their opinions and suddenly you're a little bit more tolerant - because you don't wanna be them!"

The full, explosive interview with Graham Norton appears in the new issue of Hot Press, out on Thursday February 20.

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