Credit: Gregor Fischer | re:publica (CC BY-SA 2.0

‘Father Ted’ creator blasts Irish government’s hate speech bill

In an exclusive interview with Gript, Irish comedy writer Graham Linehan has hit out at the cancellation of his comedy gig this week, and slammed the Irish government’s proposed “hate speech” bill as a threat to “perfectly commonplace beliefs.”

This coming Thursday, the creator of “Father Ted” and “The IT Crowd” was set to feature as a “surprise famous cancelled comedian” in a “counter cultural comedy” event at the Leith Arches in Edinburgh, Scotland.

The event, which had the tagline “Edgy comedy is back!”, was promoted by “Comedy Unleashed” – a group that describes itself as “The Home of Free-Thinking Comedy.”

However, on Tuesday it came to light that the Leith Arches venue had cancelled the entire event due to Linehan’s contentious views.

Linehan has been the subject of controversy in recent years due to his harsh criticism of transgender ideology.

“CANCELLED from Thursday’s comedy show with immediate effect”

“We would like to thank the public for bringing to our attention about [sic] a comedian who had been booked for an upcoming comedy show at our venue this Thursday, which we WERE NOT MADE AWARE OF until today via emails from, rightly so, outraged members of our community,” the venue said in statement.

“We DO NOT support this comedian, or his views, and he WILL NOT be allowed to perform at our venue, and is CANCELLED from Thursday’s comedy show with immediate effect. And outside organiser was responsible for the lineup, and were unaware as to who was performing until now. We are an inclusive venue and will not allow such views to violate our space.”

“There was no explanation”

Reacting to the decision to cancel the event, Linehan said: “Holy shit, the venue has cancelled the WHOLE GIG because I’m on the bill.”

He added: “There was no explanation as to what views The Leith Arches find offensive. That women deserve single sex spaces and fairness in their sports? That children shouldn’t be mutilated and sterilised? That JK Rowling shouldn’t receive death and rape threats? Could I have some details? Because it sure sounds like discrimination on the grounds of my legally protected beliefs.”

Linehan suggested the venue “reschedule the gig,” or “get acquainted” with the cases of individuals like Maya Forstater, who won a legal case in the UK after being let go from her job for expressing gender-critical beliefs online.


In an exclusive interview with Gript in the aftermath of the cancellation, Linehan said that this sort of incident was not new to him.

“This has been happening to me for five years now,” he said.

“I have to ask, where are my former colleagues? Why are they letting me go through this alone? Obviously friendship means nothing to them, but why aren’t they standing up for the women in their lives? Their daughters, sisters, mothers? How can they look at what’s happening to women and remain silent?”


When asked if he thinks legislation like Ireland’s hate speech bill might make incidents like this more common, the Dublin-native shared his thoughts – and took a shot at Scottish comedian Frankie Boyle, who is generally known for his shocking comedic style.

“The only comedy that can survive at the moment is comedy that refuses to look at the world as it really is,” he said.

“Even supposedly edgy comedians like Frankie Boyle avoid the subject of gender identity ideology like the plague. So I actually am not sure that a hate crime law would actually make this situation any worse.

“We have the equivalent of Stasi operatives roaming comedy clubs, looking for wrong opinions. These Stasi are usually mediocre comedians themselves. In fact, there’s one in England who cancelled a young comedian for ‘transphobia’ and then stole her spot.

“So I would say that the fact that we have not really seen many great comedians come up outside of the deliberately anti-woke voices like Bill Burr and Dave Chappelle shows that it’s not a fertile ground for comedy at the moment.”

He added: “I genuinely don’t see how my colleagues in comedy could be any more cowardly than they already are. So I’m actually not sure that a hate crime law will make any difference.”

“An Irish hate crime law worries me very much”

Linehan went on to express his serious concerns with the hate speech bill in general.

“An Irish hate crime law worries me very much, because we know that the kind of people who support and devise these laws are people who would frame my perfectly commonplace beliefs – beliefs I share share with figures like JK Rowling, Sharron Davies, Helen Joyce and Richard Dawkins – as bigoted,” he said.

“Of course it’s not bigoted to fight for women’s rights or for women’s single sex spaces, or to fight against the grotesque, homophobic lie that it is possible for people to be born in the wrong body. But there are people who believe that all these things are examples of hate speech, and unfortunately these people are installed in institutions across society.”

He added that the government thinks they will score an “easy win” by pursuing this legislation.

“These lunatics unfortunately have the ear of politicians who think they’ll score an easy win by opposing ‘hate’,” he said.

“But this is a generation so feeble and frail that they’re putting warnings on PG Woodhouse books. We need to be stripping society of their influence, not encoding it into law.”

Gender identity is “ludicrous,” “anti-scientific”

Earlier in the year, Gript revealed that the hate speech bill explicitly bans offensive speech against people who identify as a gender “other than that of male or female,” but that the government has “no official position” on how many genders there are, as confirmed by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.

Asked what he thought about this, Linehan replied: “The problem with this ideology is that the there are no definitions – the rules are completely incoherent.”

“The taboos are have been arrived without any consensus,” he said.

“Gender identity is a ludicrous, anti-scientific, homophobic, sexist ideology. There is no rational base to it. There is no scientific base to it. There is no logical base to it. There is nothing to it. It’s basically just a bunch of spoiled middle class teenagers stomping their feet until they get what they want.

“So the idea that the government will give these spoiled little brats another weapon to hurt people who are just trying to figure out what’s going on and to have an honest conversation about it is terrifying.”

government’s hate speech law “looks good and costs them nothing”

He added: “The government is doing this for the same reason governments are doing it all over the western world; because it looks good and it costs them nothing.

“What these laws will do is when reality starts coming in, in terms of the young women hysterectomies and osteoporosis, and the young men with multiple sclerosis – all side effects of cross sex hormones – these politicians will be able to hold off the inevitable by using hate crime laws to escape the consequences of their reckless, ignorant and incurious policies.”

“I still have a residual sympathy towards Leftwing values”

Asked where he places himself on the traditional Left-Right political spectrum, Linehan said he couldn’t answer that question.

“On the political question, I still have a residual sympathy towards Leftwing values,” he said.

“But at the same time, my belief system has been completely devastated by how insane the the Left has become over the last few years.

“You know, I genuinely could not answer where I stand politically. All I can say is that I am a single issue voter at the moment, and I will vote for no politician who pretends he doesn’t know what a woman is, or who ignores the scandals at the Tavistock and Mermaids. You know, until this ideology is defeated, I’m a single issue voter and I would say currently I can’t be placed anywhere along the political spectrum.”

“where is everyone?”

He finally asked why more people weren’t speaking up about the gender issue.

“Where is everyone?” he asked.

“Why aren’t there more sportsmen talking up about the GAA bloke who was playing in a women’s team? Where are all the Irish comedians standing up for women, for their sisters and their mothers and their daughters? Where are they? Why are they letting all this happen? Why haven’t they spoken out yet? When will they speak out? How long do we have to wait for people to do something so basic and moral?”



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