Exclusive interview: Dublin Pride addresses RTÉ partnership termination

Dublin Pride’s CEO Jed Dowling, Director Philippa Ryder, and Culture and Training Manager Chris Gebhardt all shared their views on the current controversy.

Members of Dublin Pride ahead of interview surrounding RTÉ.

Dublin Pride terminated its media partnership with RTÉ on the eve of Tuesday, June 14, after the Radio 1 Liveline programme was accused of airing “unacceptable, triggering and extremely harmful anti-trans ‘discussions’”. Representatives from Dublin Pride sat down with GCN for an exclusive interview on the matter, ahead of the annual parade next weekend.

Adding to the initial statement issued by the organisation, CEO Jed Dowling expanded on the reasoning behind ending the RTÉ partnership.

“We know exactly who we are and what we believe,” he said. “We believe that self-determined right to gender identity and expression are fundamental human rights. We believe that every person has a right to identify and express their gender without fear of intimidation, harassment or a requirement to justify their existence.

“We believe that fundamental human rights should not be debated, and we believe that every one of us, especially state-sponsored organisations, have a duty and a responsibility to protect and safeguard the most vulnerable and marginalised members of our society.”

He continued: “The actions of RTÉ over the past week demonstrated to us and more importantly, the community that we represent, that not all of our beliefs lined up, so we ended our media partnership.”

In addition to the explanation, Dowling also offered advice to RTÉ on how to improve as an ally going forward. He encouraged the national broadcaster to renew its commitment to implementing its diversity and inclusion strategy, while also upholding its promise to provide diversity and inclusion training to all employees.

The Dublin Pride executive urged RTÉ to ensure that all future programming “strike the correct balance between editorial freedom and right to free speech, while protecting and giving voice to vulnerable minorities like the Trans and non-binary community in Ireland.”

He offered support to the media organisation in the form of the Pride at Work training and education programme, and also acknowledged “the good work that RTÉ has done in many areas, and the support we received from them over the years”.

While the break-up appears to be amicable, the hurt that was caused by the actions of the broadcaster is not forgotten. Chris Gebhardt, the Culture and Training Manager at Dublin Pride, and a member of the non-binary community, stated: “In the wake of the attacks and murders on LGBTQ+ people in Ireland, which have become too commonplace, this behaviour and language is simply unacceptable.

“And having to defend your right to exist is exhausting. Being afraid to walk down the street holding your partner’s hand is exhausting. And having to listen to your existence being debated on our national radio is exhausting.

“We face challenges in this society that our straight, cisgender peers don’t have to think about, and in 2022, we should not have to face these challenges and we expect a far higher standard from our national broadcaster,” they added defiantly.

Finally, Dublin Pride Director and proud Trans woman Philippa Ryder weighed in on the issue which she described as “one of the most significant and challenging moments since Pride began for the Trans community in Ireland.” She said that the mental health and wellbeing of her community had been affected by the “anti-Trans rhetoric” appearing on RTÉ and in other media outlets

However, she also noted that she received an outpouring of support from friends, family and co-workers alike which showed her that “the vast majority of the Irish public understand and care for the Trans community.” She ended the interview by thanking those allies for their support, and encouraged all to enjoy the Dublin Pride celebrations while also remembering that it still remains a protest even in 2022.

© 2022 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

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