Gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell has criticised the Press Complaints Commission for rejecting complaints over Daily Mail writer Jan Moir.
Ms Moir was accused of homophobia for an article she wrote the day before gay Boyzone singer Stephen Gately’s funeral in October. The star died of natural causes while on holiday.
The PCC decided today not to uphold a complaint from Gately’s civil partner Andrew Cowles that the article was inaccurate, discriminatory and intrusive.More than 25,000 members of the public also complained.
Mr Tatchell called for the watchdog to be replaced with a “statutory body” with “real power and principles”.
He said: “The Press Complaints Commission should be disbanded. By failing to uphold its own standards and enforce its own Code of Practice, the PCC has demonstrated that it is unwilling, unable and unfit to regulate newspapers. We need a new press regulator with principles and teeth.
“Jan Moir’s commentary on the death of Stephen Gately was factually inaccurate on two points. His death was not unnatural or lonely, yet the PCC has rejected a complaint concerning this inaccuracy by Stephen’s civil partner, Andrew Cowles.”
Mr Tatchell has written frequently over the years about homophobia in the British press.
He has also spoken of his support for free speech in the past, saying that it should be curtailed only when it incites murder or violence.
Last month, he acknowledged the homophobia of some Muslim extremists but said people had “no right to not be offended”.
Speaking today, he said that Ms Moir had made a “cheap, homophobic jibe” at Gately and argued she would have been arrested for similar remarks based on race or religion.
Mr Tatchell concluded: “This ruling brings the PCC into disrepute. It’s another nail in the coffin of this discredited, feeble institution. The PCC is past its sell-by date. It should be replaced by an independent statutory body with real power and principles.”
Stonewall chief executive Ben Summerskill, who is a former Observer journalist, also criticised the PCC today.
He told PinkNews.co.uk: “Clearly, it’s regrettable that once again the PCC has not ruled on matters of taste and decency.”
Mr Summerskill said he acknowledged the freedom of the press but felt the newspaper should have been censured for publishing the article on the eve of Gately’s funeral “without any semblance or sensitivity or respect” for his partner.