- 05 Mar 14
With the pantigate controversy going global, the world is starting to pay attention to Ireland's attitudes towards gay rights, in particular, RTE's decision to pay off the conservative crusaders who have bridled at being labeled 'homophobic' has been widely criticised. Watching the furore from afar, Graham Norton - perhaps Ireland's best-known gay man - shares the widespread disgust at the broadcaster's refusal to stand and fight. Speaking exclusively to Hot Press he gives his support to Panti - and labels the country's right-wing rump 'rats trapped in the corner of barn'.
“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. RTÉ settling wasn’t just gutless, it was absolutely moronic!”
Graham Norton can be acerbic when he’s on the telly, but rarely do you find him spitting nails as he is today, discussing the Miss Panti Bliss homophobia controversy and RTÉ’s decision to reach for the cheque-book rather than trusting in the courts to decide whether the use of the description ‘homophobic’ was libellous or not. Within minutes of seeing Panti’s subsequent Abbey Theatre speech, in which the drag queen made a powerful call for true equality for gays, the star man at the BBC was on Twitter alerting his 662k followers to the speech. “Gay, straight, undecided – everyone should watch this,” he urged, before concluding: “Brilliant! Panti’s Noble Call...”
The A-List celebrity support doesn’t end there with Stephen Fry encouraging: “Do watch the way she exposes the evil”; Dara Ó Briain opining: “Nothing wrong with calling something bigoted. It’s often a fair point. And it’s up to them to show it isn’t. Denying rights on basis of orientation alone is homophobic, as it would similarly be racist”; RuPaul enthusing: “That is one of the most powerful speeches I’ve ever heard. Bravo!”; and Ms. Ciccone’s publicist announcing: “Madonna knows him and supports what he’s doing.”