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Drag queen Panti Bliss challenges homophobia in Ireland

Broadcaster paid off Catholic organization after Panti called it homophobic

Irish drag queen Panti Bliss defends her on-air statements about homophobia in a speech at the Abbey Theatre in Dublin Feb 2. Credit: Youtube.com

Irish drag queen Panti Bliss (whose boy name is Rory O’Neill) passionately defended her on-air statements about homophobia in a speech at the Abbey Theatre in Dublin Feb 2.

In a January interview on Ireland’s RTE television network, Bliss called several Irish newspaper columnists and the Catholic organization Iona Institute homophobic. RTE apologized for airing the comments, deleted sections of the online video of the interview, and paid out more than €80,000 ($120,000) to the Iona Institute in a defamation settlement, The Journal reports.

Originally, RTE said the video was removed out of respect for Iona Institute writer Tom O’Gorman, who was murdered in early January in an unrelated incident and who was not mentioned in the interview.

In her speech at the Abbey, Bliss argued that the pervasive tone of Ireland’s debate over gay rights causes gay people to internalize damaging homophobia.

“For the last three weeks I have been lectured to by heterosexual people about what homophobia is and about who is allowed to identify it,” she said. “Straight people have lined up — ministers, senators, barristers, journalists — have lined up to tell me what homophobia is and to tell me what I am allowed to feel oppressed by . . . and that feels oppressive.”