Irish broadcaster RTÉ has received complaints over the negative portrayal of a transgender sitcom character.

The row is over Nuala, a transgender character played by Gary Cooke in new sitcom The Centre, which aired last night.

Broden Giambrone, chief executive of Transgender Equality Network Ireland, said: “Nuala is the stock character of a ‘man in a dress’ played for cheap laughs.

“Not only is she is referred to as ‘king kong in a thong’ but there are references made to her surgical status, her hormone levels, body hair and adam’s apple. At no point is the audience laughing with Nuala, they are laughing at her.

“The Centre masquerades as edgy by poking fun at minority groups. Unfortunately, we see the very real effects of how this type of ‘humour’ contributes to the marginalisation of the trans community. [It] is a throwback to the dark ages of television and RTÉ should do better.”

According to The Journal, RTÉ has so far received 24 complaints about the character, but has defended the sitcom.

Bill Malone, Channel Controller for RTÉ Two, told the newspaper that the “Transgendered character” Nuala is “actually a positive LGBT character.”

He also claimed a character on the show who frequently makes transphobic comments is “an equal opportunities offender”.

He said: “She insults ALL, she is sexist, ageist, fattest, elitist, bigoted etc. LGBT characters should not be treated differently.”

The broadcaster came under fire earlier this year, after paying compensation to an anti-gay marriage lobbying group who were labelled ‘homophobes’ on a chat show.