Author John Boyne, who previously criticised TV writer Graham Linehan over his stance on trans issues, has issued a public apology, saying: “You were right, I was wrong.”
Boyne is best known for his 2006 Holocaust novel The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas and in 2019 published My Brother’s Name Is Jessica, about a young boy coming to terms with his older sibling transitioning.
At the time, he wrote an article criticising Linehan – an outspoken critic of transgender self-identification – for his involvement in the debate, published in The Irish Times.
Boyne has now shared a lengthy apology to the Father Ted writer on X, formerly known as Twitter, explaining that he had reflected upon seeing the backlash against singer Roisin Murphy for criticising puberty blockers in a post on her personal Facebook account.
Boyne, who is gay, found himself on the same side as Linehan in defending Murphy amid reports that some of her shows were being called off.
In his apology, the Irish author wrote: “Graham Linehan – who is without question one of our best screenwriters – has sacrificed enormous amounts in his support of women, children, gay men, and lesbians. He’s experienced trauma in his personal life, been vilified for his views online, in newspapers, and on television. He is currently unable to work in the industry he loves.
“There is no legal reason for me to post this message – in fact, Graham will be as surprised by its appearance as anyone – but I’ve given a lot of thought to this and realised that all I did in that piece 5 years ago was add to the pile-on of a decent man in a vulnerable place, when I could have used my platform to defend and support him.
“Graham, without equivocation, without excuses, and without evasion: you were right, I was wrong, and I apologise.”
Linehan accepted the apology, writing: “Don’t know what to say. Apology accepted, obviously. I said some things in anger to John that must have made this doubly hard to write, so my particular thanks to him for looking past that. Very decent of you, John, thank you.”
It comes after fellow Irish star Murphy, a Mercury-nominated solo musician after fronting dance act Moloko, faced criticism for a post she shared on Facebook, in which she reportedly said that puberty blockers “are f****d… big pharma laughing all the way to the bank” and that “little mixed-up kids are vulnerable and need to be protected”.
She later issued an apology on X, saying: “I am so sorry my comments have been directly hurtful to many of you. You must have felt a huge shock, blindsided by this so abruptly. I understand fixed views are not helpful but I really hope people can understand my concern was out of love for all of us.”
Before Boyne’s apology to him, Linehan had questioned the writer over his defence of Murphy, writing on X: “Seeing John Boyne virtue signalling about Roisin Murphy when he enthusiastically joined in my cancellation is quite the spectacle.”
Linehan co-created the Channel 4 comedy Father Ted and later wrote Black Books and The IT Crowd.
He was banned from X, formerly known as Twitter, in 2020 for breaking its rules around “hateful conduct” with comments about trans people, but his account was reinstated after Elon Musk took over.
In August, an Edinburgh Fringe Festival venue, Leith Arches, pulled the plug on its Comedy Unleashed event after it received complaints that Linehan was on the bill.
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