Homophobia is still alive and well

DEBORAH COLEMAN

Published 20/03/2012 | 14:38

TWO SEPARATE incidents in Ireland this week have sadly shown that homophobia is still alive and well in Ireland.

It could have gone unnoticed but TV3'S Alan Hughes took a brave step and spoke out about abusive comments sent to him via Facebook that used his sexuality as a means of insulting him.

As he said during interviews this week, he is lucky to be in a position where he can speak publically on such matters but it is people who don't have such a forum who can be seriously affected by such victimisation. He rightly pointed out that a young person who was considering coming out is bound to be dissuaded when this type of bullying is revealed.

A more public and perhaps even more staggering incident occurred on what is hailed as RTÉ'S family viewing highlight of the week-the Voice when a presenter displayed handwritten cue cards describing mentor Bressie as ' 100% gay' with fellow mentor Cian Egan.

Apparently it was a planned ' gag' which was approved by producers which makes it even more unbelievable. If it was an off the cuff, unapproved moment of madness from a rookie presenter then people might understand that mistakes, however distasteful can happen. However if professional producers can see nothing wrong with using the word gay as a means of jeering and insulting somebody serious questions must be asked regarding out attitudes as a society.

This programme is marketed as family viewing and airs in the early evening and what message is such content giving to young impressionable children-that it is okay and even funny to mock someone by calling them gay. It insinuates that being gay is wrong and something to be sneered at or embarrassed about and gives bullies carte blanche to use homophobia as a weapon.

Despite the outrage expressed over what happened, RTÉ failed to edit the incident out of the repeat show which shows a deep lack of understanding as to why such offence was caused.

There is still a deep undertone in Ireland that gay people should put up with such derogatory remarks and abuse and that it's part and parcel of homosexuality. This is unacceptable and must not be tolerated in any sphere.

The only way such bullying can be stamped out is if it is not ignored. It can't be brushed under the carpet any longer. When such comments are made, however flippantly those responsible should be questioned on what they mean and why they used specific language. Until the bullies get the message that they are the minority they will continue with their narrow minded and ignorant behaviour.

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