The Dublin Pride festival has terminated its partnership with Irish national broadcaster RTE following complaints about on-air debates discussing the erasure of the word "woman" that activists and organizers deemed to be "hate speech."
RTE said they were disappointed in the decision, but held steadfast to their commitment to provide Ireland with thought-provoking programming that includes diversity of opinion.
The debates in question took place on Joe Duffy's RTE Radio 1 program Liveline, a show wherein people call in and discuss a variety of topics.
On Thursday June 9, a lady belonging to feminist group The Countess gave Duffy a ring expressing dissatisfaction with the proposed erasure of the word "woman" in the national Maternity Act in favor of more "gender-neutral language."
"It is a biological reality that women are the only people who can conceive and gestate and give birth to children," she argued. "I think we need that word to recognize that reality, and also to allow women to organize as a political class and a group in our own interests."
She went on to lament that in today's society, it is increasingly seen as "dangerous" to say that "women are a biological reality," and "not a feeling or an identity."
She made it clear, however, that use of the word woman should not be seen as an attack on transgender people, adding that The Countess believes everyone deserves to have their human rights upheld.
The topic was brought up again on Friday and Monday. During the latter show, a self-described gender-fluid non-binary person named Catriona called in and offered a counter-position.
"It's not about the erasure of the word 'woman' and it’s not about the erasure of women as a state of being," Catriona said. "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."
Some might refer to this type of back and forth discussion as a healthy debate, but activists and Dublin Pride organizers instead saw it as "hate speech."
As GCN reports, LGBTQ+ activist Dr. Ailbhe Smyth accused RTE of enabling and encouraging hate speech. "If it comes up on the programme I can understand," she said, "but that it is allowed to crop up again and again, that is a step too far."
Following the debates, RTE was inundated with complaints, leading Dublin Pride to make the call and cut ties. As Irish Mirror reports, organizers did not point out any particular instance that went too far, only stating that they "expect better than for RTE to stoke the flames of 'anti-trans rhetoric'."
"Standing with the LGBGTQ+ community, during Pride month sends an important signal that RTÉ is here to serve everyone," the broadcaster said in a statement.
"Public discussion - sometimes uncomfortable, difficult, and contentious - is central to RTE’s prescribed purpose. RTE is acutely aware that discussions on issues such as gender and identity are deeply personal to many. It is important we listen to them, their families and those close to them, and it is also important that we allow our audiences engage with and understand the issues involved."
"In time," they concluded, "we hope that we will once again get the opportunity to continue to develop our partnership with Dublin Pride."
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