Thousands sign petition over inclusion of 'transphobic' Graham Linehan in RTÉ debate on transgender issues

Almost 2,000 people have already signed a petition in the first 24 hours to remove “transphobic” Graham Linehan from the panel of next week’s RTÉ Prime Time programme.

A trailer for Tuesday’s Prime Time revealed that the episode will focus on “the implication of the explosion in the numbers of young people saying they want to change gender.”

The trailer continues: “but government proposals to allow them to side their gender are not welcomed by all” before Mr Linehan’s commentary slot was introduced.

The inclusion of the Father Ted writer led to complaints to both RTÉ and the BAI claiming Mr Linehan has a lack of qualification to comment on the subject and alleged “transphobia”.

In the teaser for the episode, Mr Linehan says; “You do not tell kids that they have been born into the wrong body just as you don’t tell anorexics that they are fat.”

Some social media users have criticised RTE’s  decision to have Mr Linehan share his views on the topic.

A petition, set up by Hollie Leddy-Flood on change.ie, has amassed almost 2,000 complaints in less than 24 hours.

Ms Leddy-Flood said: “Graham Linehan is not a medical expert and he is not transgender. He has frequently expressed transphobic views in public and has used his social media platform to denigrate transgender people – so much so that he was visited twice by the UK police in relation to his online behaviour.

“He has also advocated against a charity that supports gender non-conforming children and their parents.

“Ireland is a relatively safe and tolerant place for trans people and we feel that his hateful views have no place in our public discourse.

“RTE has a duty to present this issue in a fair-minded and balanced way and not to try and inflame a toxic debate similar to what is occurring in the UK.”

This is the latest in a string of controversial comments made by Mr Linehan.

In October he was given a verbal harassment warning by West Yorkshire police after a transgender activist complained that he referred to her as “he” and called her by names used before transitioning.

The writer, of such sitcoms as The IT Crowd and Black Books, was also the subject of backlash when he correlated Transgender activism to Nazism.

Speaking on the Derrick Jensen Resistance internet radio show he said; “Around the time of something terrible happening like Nazism, would you be one of the people who said, ‘this is wrong,’ despite being opposed? I feel happy in myself that I’ve been one of the people saying up and saying, ‘No, this is wrong,’ despite everyone telling me not to do it.”

The 50-year-old has also referred to sexual reassignment surgery as “mutilation” and led a campaign to attempt the prevention of the UK National Lottery from donating £500,000 to Mermaid, a charity set up to support gender-diverse and transgender children.

In response to the protestation, RTÉ said that Mr Linehan is only one of many guests on the episode of Prime Time, and his opinions help to form a balanced portrayal of the issues discussed in the programme.

“RTÉ Prime Time is broadcasting an in-depth report on transgender issues on Tuesday night on RTÉ One,” a spokesperson told the Independent.ie.

“Ten contributors representing a broad range of views are interviewed. The programme examines the exponential growth in the number of young people seeking to change gender, and the implications of the proposed new law allowing them to do so without their parents’ consent.

“It also asks how society should treat ‘female-only’ spaces in the light of the growth in the number of transgender people. We are confident that viewers will find the programme to be a fair and responsible examination of an issue of considerable public importance.”

Independent.ie has contacted an agent for Mr Linehan but is yet to receive a reply.

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