Northern Ireland news

LGBT group welcomes BBC Radio One's decision to play edited version of Fairytale of New York

The new edited version of the song will be played on BBC Radio 1

LGBT activists have welcomed a decision by BBC Radio One to play an edited version of The Pogues Christmas classic, Fairytale of New York.

Gavin Boyd from the Rainbow Project said it was "absolutely right" for the station to play a version that removes a homophobic slur.

The 1987 track by The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl has been the focus of debate in recent years with calls to play edited versions due to outdated and offensive terms.

Radio 1 said that this year it will air a version that removes the words 'faggot' and 'slut' to avoid offending listeners, with the record label providing different lyrics sung by MacColl.

The station said young listeners were particularly sensitive to derogatory terms for gender and sexuality.

The new version will include the line "you’re cheap and you’re haggard" in place of the homophobic slur with the word 'slut' silenced.

MacColl sung the new line on Top of the Pops in 1992. The rest of the song remains unchanged.

However, Radio 2 will play the original, but said it will continue to monitor listeners' views. 6 Music said it has made an edited version available and will allow presenters to make the choice.

A BBC spokesman said: "We know the song is considered a Christmas classic and we will continue to play it this year, with our radio stations choosing the version of the song most relevant for their audience".

Mr Boyd last night welcomed the decision.

"I don't think there is anything wrong with Radio One playing a censored version of that song because to not do so is pure hypocrisy," he told the BBC.

"There is no other song that you can get away with using the word faggot and with it having it played with such regularity on a mainstream radio station."

He said the original word used is a "homophobic word, it is only ever used in a homophobic context, it's being used as an insult - it is just homophobic".

Mr Boyd added that he believed it was "absolutely right that Radio One does not play the song to kids in that way".

"If Radio One, the radio station that is targeted to young people can do a really small thing in terms of removing the word faggot from being played every hour, I think that is a really small and reasonable step to take," he said.

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