Drag queen: Irish broadcaster RTE threw me under the bus over Catholic homophobe row

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

Drag artist Panti Bliss has lashed out as Irish state broadcaster RTÉ, after it paid a settlement to a Catholic lobbying group she accused of being “homophobes”.

While appearing on the broadcaster’s Saturday Night Show in January, the drag artist – real name Rory O’Neill – labelled the Iona Institute homophobic.

The Catholic pressure group, which admits it aims to “promote the place of marriage and religion in society”, complained alongside a number of other parties, and RTÉ controversially issued an apology and offered a substantial legal settlement.

Writing in her new autobiography Woman in the Making, Panti Bliss attacked the decision.

The drag artist wrote: “What they were attempting to do was throw me under the bus.

“RTÉ were essentially standing up in the classroom and pointing at me shouting, ‘He did it sir! He did it!’

“Evidently, as far as RTÉ were concerned, it was every man for himself.

“RTÉ is not Coca-Cola. They are a national broadcaster, publicly funded, with a remit to provide a platform for free and open debate, to facilitate the ‘democratic debate’ their mealy-mouthed apology pretended was so important to them.

“And yet all it took for Iona to bring them to heel was a few quid to a solicitor for a handful of legal letters.

“They couldn’t allow people to suggest their arguments against marriage equality were simply based on a dislike of gay people.”

The drag queen – who went viral after the incident giving a speech about the row – revealed that it had hurt her media profile in some ways.

She said: “For a long time afterwards, whenever I was interviewed on radio or TV, nervous producers would insist on a pre-record — until eventually I put a foot down and refused to do [them] on principle.”

Graham Norton previously criticised RTÉ for the payout, saying: “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 gutless, it was absolutely moronic!”