Panti's rousing gay rights speech goes viral

By Conor Hallahan

Well-known Dublin drag queen Panti Bliss - aka Rory O'Neill, self-described as an "accidental and occasional gay rights activist' - took to the stage of the city's Abbey Theatre last Saturday evening following a performance of James Plunkett's 'The Risen People'.

Her passionate and personal 10-minute speech on gay rights, homophobia and the nature of oppression - entitled 'Panti's Noble Call' - was recorded and posted to YouTube, where in the intervening days it has garnered almost 220,000 views.

If you haven't seen it already it's well worth watching, as a valuable and considered addition to the debate surrounding the upcoming referendum on same-sex marriage in 2015.

WATCH: Panti's Noble Call at the Abbey Theatre:

The clip has caught the attention of many in the online community and become something of a rallying call for those that support SSM, with prominent tweeters and rights activists including Stephen Fry, Graham Norton, Dan Savage and Dara O'Briain retweeting the speech to a combined audience of millions, while Irish Times columnist Fintan O'Toole has described the clip as "the most eloquent Irish speech since Daniel O'Connell was in his prime".

Even the Material Girl herself has apparently seen the clip.

The clip was also played in full at the opening of last night's 'Tonight With Vincent Browne' show on TV3, prior to an on-air debate about homophobia and SSM.

State broadcaster RTÉ is understood to have paid out some €85,000 in compensation in a defamation settlement over comments made by Mr O'Neill on 'The Saturday Night Show' in January.

The settlement was made following legal correspondence from the parties named in the January 11 interview with Brendan O'Connor, including Irish Times journalists John Waters and Breda O'Brien as well as members of the right-wing Catholic thinktank The Iona Institute.

RTÉ has described the settlement as "the most prudent course of action" having been informed by its lawyers that "the legal position was far from clear", according to an internal memo sent to staff yesterday by Glen Killane, Managing Director of RTÉ Television.

"Based on the facts of what was broadcast, and having regard for broadcasting compliance issues, the seriousness of the legal complaints, and the decision by the complainants not to accept RTÉ’s proposed remedies, we decided that a settlement was the most prudent course of action," said Mr Killane.

"As a dual-funded public body, RTÉ should not knowingly progress to defend an action when it is advised, internally and externally, that such a defence is unlikely to succeed before a jury," Mr Killane added.

"RTÉ has not engaged in censorship, but has rather fallen foul of Ireland’s defamation laws."

More: Rabbitte: public persons should not 'reach for defamation laws' easily

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