RTÉ Liveline criticised for enabling transphobic hate speech

“It is not the role of our national broadcaster to enable or encourage hate speech of any kind,” said activist Dr Ailbhe Smyth.

RTÉ Liveline host Joe Duffy.
Image: Twitter: @RTERadio1

The RTÉ Radio 1 Liveline programme hosted by Joe Duffy has come under fire after broadcasting what listeners have described as transphobic hate speech. “Debates” spanning several days broke out on Thursday, June 9, after a group called in to oppose the removal of the word ‘woman’ from maternity legislation – a move which aims to make the language more inclusive of transgender and non-binary parents.

A gender-fluid, non-binary person, Catriona, appeared on the show on Monday afternoon, saying: “It’s not about the erasure of the word ‘woman’ and it’s not about the erasure of women as a state of being, it’s about including other people who wish to be parents, who wish to give birth to a child but feel dysphoric or don’t identify with the word ‘woman’ anymore.” Even with this seemingly simple explanation, others argued against their reasoning and maintained that the legislation was harmful to women’s rights.

“I don’t understand why people can not want things to be more inclusive – it’s not like we’re getting rid of women’s rights, it’s just that we are expanding what it means to be a parent and be somebody who can give birth,” Catriona said.

“The legislation, I feel like, is a great move towards inclusivity and equality between everybody in this country.”

Catriona was not the only one to speak out about what was being aired on RTÉ Liveline, with LGBTQ+ activist Dr Ailbhe Smyth stating: “It is not the role of our national broadcaster to enable or encourage hate speech of any kind. If it comes up on the programme I can understand but that it is allowed to crop up again and again, that is a step too far.”

She added that it was “not right that people are dragged down and treated like muck on the radio,” and that she did not believe “that there is broad transphobia in this country. There’s a small group and it disturbs me that small group of people is given such oxygen.”

Dr Smyth was present at the Trans Equality Together coalition launch on Monday, June 13, when she spoke about the issue. Alongside her was Lord Mayor of Dublin Alison Gilliland who added that the subject was “being played out in the most appalling, disgusting way on our national airwaves in the name of public debate.” 


RTÉ, an official partner of Dublin Pride, has yet to issue comment.

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