Controversy was sparked when an Irish radio host read out a text from a reader which claimed that children living with gay people “could easily pick up AIDS.”
The text was read out yesterday by Tommy Marren on his morning radio show on MidWest radio station which mainly serves the Mayo area.
An apology was given on today’s programme, but not before the show was the subject of a storm of complaints online. Some have questioned why the text was read out at all, others have pointed out offensive and inaccurate claims
It was sent in by a listener who only identified herself as Jo, and condemned the idea of the introduction of same-sex marriage in Ireland, claiming that “people will be hurt”, but that by “stamping out homosexuality”, Irish people would “protect the health of our nation”.
The text read: “The plan to introduce same sex marriages must be defeated. It is a crazy idea. We must show true compassion for all of society by stamping out homosexuality altogether. We must remind all of where the AIDS epidemic started. We must remind people of the bizarre sexual lifestyle they lead.
“We must point out that if children were to live with such people they could easily pick up AIDS. Yes, these people will be hurt by some of what we have to say and that is hard on them but we must protect the health of our nation.”
Today Mr Marren apologised for reading out the text and for any offence caused. He said he had not proofread the letter before he read it out.
He said: “An unreserved apology. When one is in the wrong, one should have the courage and conviction to actually state it. On yesterday’s programme I showed unprofessionalism, to say the least by reading out a text from a lady called Jo.
Going on he notes that Irish Equality Minister Alan Shatter yesterday announced plans to establish equal parenthood rights for gay couples, and then read out the text again.
“I understand that a lot of people were hurt and offended by the comments and that I did not exercise due care and consideration in reading out that text.”
He then said they read out many texts in response to Jo’s comments, and that many condemned her opinion as “homophobic”.
In a statement to PinkNews, Tommy Marren said: “I am extremely sorry for any hurt the broadcast of the text has caused listeners of all persuasions and fully acknowledge that it should not have happened. In apologising to listeners this morning I also spoke to a member of the gay community and conducted a lively debate about the stigmas and difficulties that the gay community in Ireland still face.”
“Having dealt with the subject on hundreds of occasions over the years I would hope that I have always treated the subject with impartiality and balance but on this occasion I completely misjudged the content of the points raised by the listener and should have dealt with it in a more professional manner.”
According to the station’s website: “The Tommy Marren Show is even more popular than ever covering local and regional stories with special emphasis on giving the listener the platform to air their views and opinions.”