Anti-gay marriage journalist defends legal action over ‘homophobic’ jibe

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Former Irish Times columnist John Waters has defended taking legal action against broadcaster RTE after he was branded “homophobic” by drag queen Panti Bliss on a chat show earlier this year.

The 58-year-old Catholic writer opposes equal marriage, describing civil partnership legislation in 2009 as “potentially destructive” to “the very fabric of Irish society”.

“[It] was demanded by the tiniest minority imaginable. It was certainly not desired by the vast majority of people who voted for Fianna Fail.

“It was promoted by an aggressive and determined group of activists who relentlessly attacked on the fronts of media and politics, bullying everyone with their cries of ‘Homophobe’.”
“I have no regrets,” Mr Waters said of his legal action on RTE Radio One’s Sean O’Rourke programme on Wednesday.

“I will never have any regrets about defending my reputation because it’s vitally important that a commentator of any kind preserve their reputation and their credibility in the public sphere,” he continued.

“It is vitally important that I am seen to intervene. My job was to intervene in the debate and have controversial views and have robust views and if you can be presented as motivated by malice in what you say, you are entirely disabled as a commentator.”

“The process which arose could have been avoided,” he added.

“This could have been sorted out on day one with an apology and at minimal cost, a small donation to St Vincent de Paul. That’s all I asked for.”

The Irish Independent reports RTE said that the initial wording of the apology by John Waters was “unacceptable” to the broadcaster.

In February, RTE defended its decision to settle with the Iona Institute, a right-wing anti-equal marriage Catholic think tank, along with several journalists linked with the organisation, because of comments made by Panti Bliss.

Irish born London based TV presenter Graham Norton called the decision to pay damages of €85,000 (£70,000) “unbelievable”.

In the Seanad, the upper house of the Irish Parliament, Senator David Norris attacked RTE over the speed of its settlement.

He also said homophobia remained “rampant” in Irish society and called into question the conduct of the Iona Institute.