The BBC’s research on its portrayal of lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) people is ground-breaking progress. But is also flawed in key aspects.
The report does not adequately address complaints that the BBC gives proportionately little airtime to gay people or issues, and that its news coverage of homophobic hate crimes and gay human rights violations is often patchy. In the name of balance, the BBC too often reports extreme homophobic views, whereas it would not give a platform to similar racist or anti-Semitic opinions.
It is guilty of featuring too many camp, stereotypical gay comedians and either neglecting or sensationalising transgender people.
The real bench mark is to compare the BBC’s portrayal of gay issues with its depiction of black issues. Quite rightly, the BBC has a zero tolerance of racism but when it comes to homophobia it seems to show more leeway. Why two different responses to prejudice?
At a time when the BBC national news was almost daily reporting the murder of young men and racists attacks, in 2008 it failed to report the homophobic murder of 18-year-old Michael Causer in Liverpool, other than on the Merseyside section of the BBC website.
In contrast, the earlier racist murder of black Liverpudlian, Anthony Walker, received national BBC news coverage for days. This is evidence of the BBC’s double standards on racism and homophobia.
I salute those BBC trustees, executives, editors and journalists who have made positive changes to include and fairly represent the lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) communities. Progress has been made. We need to acknowledge that.
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