Irish state broadcaster announces first gay programme

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One of RTE’s digital radio channels will broadcast Ireland’s first ever programme specifically for the gay community.

Ireland’s state broadcaster will transmit The Cosmopolitan on RTE Pulse, one of six new digital station, from this week.

RTE Choice will also broadcast a new international show for gay people on Saturdays called This Way Out.

David Timpson, scheduler of RTE Pulse, told the Irish Independent that Wednesday’s first broadcast of The Cosmopolitan, named after the cocktail, would be history in the making.

It will feature gay community news and dance music.

In February 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.

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.

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.

Last month the President of Ireland spoke at a forum for gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans young people.

“Homophobic bullying continues to be a society-wide issue, including in our schools and the link between it and suicide sends a clear message that this trend must be reversed,” she said.

“By working together, by standing up for the democratic values that we share, by refusing to go along with loudly-voiced prejudices, we can overcome the bias and hostility experienced by many young gay people throughout the country.

“No-one should have to suffer on account of their sexual orientation.”

Mary McAleese’s strong condemnation of homophobia was yet another indication of an improved understanding of the needs of gay people.

The Irish government has produced draft legislation that would create a form of civil partnerships for same-sex couples but has ruled out gay marriage, claiming that it would require a change to the country’s constitution and a potentially divisive referendum.