Senator Jim Walsh has warned against what he describes as “dangerous, vicious elements within the gay ideological movement” in Ireland.

The Irish Independent reports the Fianna Fail politician made the remarks in the Irish Parliament on Wednesday during a debate on broadcaster RTE’s decision to pay a €85,000 (£70k) libel settlement to journalists and a right-wing Catholic think-tank, following the comments of a drag artist on one of its shows.

Panti Bliss made critical comments about the Iona Institute, who “promote the place of marriage and religion in society”, on RTE’s Saturday Night Show last month.

Accusing them of homophobia, Bliss named several individuals, leading to the settlement by RTE.

The broadcaster said it had no choice but to settle due to Ireland’s defamation laws.

It warned contesting the case could have cost it even more money.

However, the decision has provoked uproar in Ireland, with equality supporters saying it censors freedom of expression and legitimate debate ahead of Ireland’s equal marriage referendum.

In contrast, Senator Jim Walsh urged the Irish Government to take action against “vicious elements within the gay ideological movement”.

He said: “Can we have a debate on freedom of speech. Can we have the Minister for Communications in and can we deal with these dangerous, vicious elements within the gay ideological movement. Can I appeal to those, can I appeal to those….”

Labour Party Senator Ivana Bacik interrupted: “I have to object to that. There is no such thing as the gay ideological movement. There is no such thing. You’re making it up. It’s ridiculous, Senator Walsh.”

Senator Walsh replied: “Can I appeal to the more reasoned voices within the gay groups…to condemn this type of activity.

“It’s totally unacceptable and it’s intended obviously to intimidate and prevent people from engaging in open debate and open speech on a matter or social re-engineering.”

Irish born London based TV presenter Graham Norton called the decision to pay damages “unbelievable”.

Norton tweeted his support for Bliss following her emotional speech at the Abbey Theatre last Saturday.

Yesterday, Senator David Norris made a blistering attack against homophobia in Irish society.

The gay politician called into question the speed at which RTE settled with the Iona Institute and the conduct of the religious organisation.

In December 2012 the institute released a video on YouTube arguing that marriage can only be between a man and a woman and that blocking gay couples from marriage was not discrimination.

The institute claims that children do best when raised by a mother and father, but has been accused of misquoting scientific evidence to justify its position.