Gays holding hands on TV upset Irish viewers

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

The provocative sight of two men holding hands while explaining why they favour same-sex marriage over civil partnerships triggered a flood of complaints to an Irish broadcaster yesterday.

“Switchboards at TV3 were jammed with irate callers when Mark McCarron and Paul Kenny became the first male couple to display their affections on the Irish airwaves,” reports the Irish Daily Mirror.

The couple were appearing on the commercial network’s popular breakfast show Ireland AM.

Despite the complaints, a poll found that 72% of viewers backed the Irish government’s proposal to introduce a form of legal recognition for gay and lesbian couples.

Legislation is expected to be unveiled next month.

A spokeswoman for the station told the paper:

“The interview provoked some strong reaction from our viewers this morning.

“It’s a subject our viewers feel passionate about.

“But although we did receive a number of complaints the overall consensus was in favour of bringing in civil marriage legislation for gay couples.”

Last month lesbian and gay rights activists in Ireland came together to form a pressure group to push for full gay marriage in the country.

The Gay and Lesbian Equality Network (GLEN) and the National Lesbian Gay Federation (NLGF) joined forces with new direct action group LGBT Noise and MarriagEquality, a group campaigning for full civil marriage for same sex couples.

In December Ireland’s Minister of Justice rejected the possibility of a referendum to allow gay marriage.

Brian Lenihan said civil partnership was easier to achieve, because gay marriage would require a constitutional change that would split the country.

“This government, as our agreed programme reflects, is committed to full equality of opportunity for all in our society,” he said.

“In particular, we are committed to providing a more supportive and secure legal environment for same-sex couples.

“I believe equality for same-sex couples can be achieved through a diversity of legal arrangements and I am very keen that … we should proceed now to bring in a law that will give recognition and protection to same sex couples who are involved in loving stable relationships.”

The minister said that the expected law should allow couples to formalise their relationships, undertake mutual rights and obligations, obtain legal protection and legal benefits for their relationships.