British actor-comedian Ricky Gervais has defended his latest Netflix special "SuperNature", which has atracted criticism from the transgender community for a string of graphic jokes aimed at them. In the hour-long special, which released on the streaming service on Wednesday, Gervais made several remarks about the community that trans activists have slammed.
Trans rights organisation GLAAD criticised the comedian for the special which it said was full of "graphic, dangerous, anti-trans rants masquerading as jokes".
Talking to UK's The Spectator, Gervais said his jokes were not aimed at "trans folk, but trans activist ideology".
"I've always confronted dogma that oppresses people and limits freedom of expression.It was probably the most current, most talked about, taboo subject of the last couple of years. I deal in taboo subjects and have to confront the elephant in the room," the 60-year-old actor-comedian said.
In a separate interview with BBC One's The One Show, Gervais said comedy is for "getting us over taboo subjects".
"I think that's what comedy is for, really - to get us through stuff, and I deal in taboo subjects because I want to take the audience to a place it hasn't been before, even for a split second.
Most offence comes from when people mistake the subject of a joke with the actual target," he said.
On Wednesday, GLAAD had issued a statement, lambasting the comedian for his "anti-gay rhetoric" and spreading "inaccurate information about HIV".
"We watched the Ricky Gervais ‘comedy’ special on Netflix so you don’t have to. It’s full of graphic, dangerous, anti-trans rants masquerading as jokes. He also spouts anti-gay rhetoric and spreads inaccurate information about HIV," the organistion said.
"Attention Ricky and Netflix: people living with HIV today, when on effective treatment, lead long and healthy lives and cannot transmit HIV to others," it added.
GLAAD also criticised Netflix for giving a go-ahead to anti-LGBTQ content.
"While Netflix is home to some groundbreaking LGBTQ shows, it refuses to enforce its own policy in comedy. The LGBTQ community and our allies have made it very clear that so-called comedians who spew hate in place of humor, and the media companies who give them a platform, will be held accountable.
Meanwhile, there are PLENTY of funny LGBTQ comedians to support," the statement concluded.
Last year, Dave Chappelle’s Netflix special "The Closer" generated a huge backlash over remarks about the trans and LGBTQ+ communities, and even sparked an employee walkout at the streaming service's Sunset Boulevard building in Los Angeles.