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Ofcom won’t intervene over BBC interview with gay execution supporter

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  1. All I got from the BBC when I complained was: “We recognise this issue can arouse a diverse range of contrasting opinions. This brief report featured Sir Elton John’s thoughts and an opposing view on the matter at hand. It must be stressed that over time we have heard from all sides of this debate, dealing the subject in a fair and impartial manner.”

  2. Do NOT pay your TV license.

    Simple as that.

    On the offchance that you are caught then deal with it then.

    The BBC is institutionally homophobic.

    Their consultation last year on how they represent the gay community (you know the 1 where they also sought the opinions of bigots) was clearly just a PR stunt.

    The BBC clearly does not represent the LGBT population. Therefore they cannot expect us to pay the TV license

  3. Interesting:

    “The watchdog may asses the content of programmes but said Mr Green’s segment did not contain “aggressive incitement or derogatory language”

    Well Newsnight last night DID contain derogatory language – when Carmen Callil described the Australian cricket team as ‘poofters’; to which Kirsty Wark laughed and said ‘I’d never say that’.

    Perhaps people should complain to Ofcom about last nights’s Newsnight;

    You can do so here:

    https://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/tell-us/specific-programme-epg

  4. Maybe if we started a national gay lobby to strike down the licence fee for the BBC they might take our complaints seriously. I see no reason why anybody, gay or straight, should be compelled to pay for something they either don’t want or watch. I could live quite easily without the BBC. I don’t watch it on account of its institutionalised homophobia and its failure to provide balanced views on LGBT issues. Why it went out of its way to solicit the opinions of a known religious extremists belies its impartiality. If Green had ranted against an ethnic group, blacks or pakistanis for instance, there would have been bloody uproar and even intervention by a government official.

  5. Interesting that the BBC can [it claims] detect evidence of a lobby and refuses to publish the number of complaints on this matter. They weren’t similarly shy about announcing that it received over 6000 complaints over a recent Eastenders episode!!
    Double standard?????????????

  6. David: “Do NOT pay your TV license.
    Simple as that. ”

    Go to prison for non-payment.
    Simple as that.

    There are many ways to fight this, but that isn’t one of them. You’re an idiot.

  7. Peter & Michael 7 Jan 2011, 3:36pm

    So anyone can say anything derogatory about Gay people but not about other minority groups, so can someone explain the existence of the Equality law then? The BBC should be ashamed of itself, it seems to us that the BBC is another segment of the church and we are all paying a licence fee to be demonised.

  8. Andrew Stephens 7 Jan 2011, 3:56pm

    “David: “Do NOT pay your TV license.
    Simple as that. ”

    Go to prison for non-payment.
    Simple as that.

    There are many ways to fight this, but that isn’t one of them. You’re an idiot”

    Spanner, no one has gone to prison for non payment of a TV license, do you research like I have.

    You wont get the BBC to change, they are institutionally homophobic through and through. I for one have complained and got the usual drivel reply and I will not pay to be insulted.

  9. so when a young black is murdered we can expect the BMP to be interviewed?

  10. “There are many ways to fight this, but that isn’t one of them. You’re an idiot.”

    Well list the ways then, you unpleasant moron.

    Instead of just sniping like an unloved schoolyard bully.

  11. “Go to prison for non-payment.
    Simple as that.”

    Do you even have a brain?

    When was the last time someone was jailed for non-payment of a TV license?

  12. Time for gearing up of actions maybe? I would like to invite all members of Equity UK (the actors union) to protest at the conduct of the BBC in this matter. I invite them to make their views known to the media on this matter and protest at the insitutional homophobia in the BBC.

    I invite members of Equity to raise this matter at the next Annual General Meeting with a view of having this issue put on a motion of censure of the BBC at the next Annual Representative Conference.

    I invite all interested members of Equity to write to Equity Council to protest the conduct of the BBC in this matter and to support a motion to censure the BBC for this further example of homophobic conduct.

  13. In keeping with Johnny’s excellent suggestion that Equity take action on this, I’d suggest polite, but insistent demonstrations outside the Covent Garden side of St. Paul’s Covent Garden (“the Actors’ Church”) to keep focus on the matter prior to the Annual General Meeting.

  14. So the editors, producers etc. of the news are all employees of the BBC right?

    I’m pretty damned sure that the BBC has employment policies relating to equality that employees are expected to conform to while carrying out their roles for the BBC.

    For me this raises three questions:
    1) Whether or not the editor, producer etc. conformed to the BBC’s equality policy while carry out their role of putting together the piece for the news.
    2) I’d like to know whether or not the BBC takes it’s employment policy that covers equality seriously.
    3) How the many, many LGBT employees of the BBC feel about the BBC’s lack of action on enforcing their equality policy.

  15. michael, liverpool 7 Jan 2011, 7:06pm

    I got my reply from Ofcom today. Here’s what they said:-

    “BBC News, 28/12/2010, 18:30

    Thank you for contacting us about the above programme. We have noted your concern about the presence of, and remarks by Christian Voice representative Stephen Green regarding the adoption of a son by Elton John and his partner David Furnish. However, I should advise that we do not consider there are grounds to intervene.

    Firstly, I should explain that Ofcom has no creative input into programmes. Broadcasters have editorial freedom in deciding who to invite to participate in programmes including news items such as this. We are therefore unable to comment on the BBC’s decision to include the brief interview with Mr Green in this segment. We can therefore only assess the actual content of the item.

    We assessed the news report against Rule 2.3 of the Ofcom Broadcasting Code which requires broadcasters to ensure material that has the potential to offend to be justified in view of the context.

    As you know, the item explained that Elton John and David Furnish became fathers to a surrogate baby boy on Christmas Day and briefly chronicled the couples’ history from their civil partnership in 2005 to their previous unsuccessful application to adopt an Ukrainian child in 2009. The article therefore had a celebratory tone which was briefly countered by Mr Green who said that “it was an act of pure selfishness to deprive a boy of a father and a mother”.

    Whilst we fully recognise that many consider Mr Green’s view to be naïve and archaic, we must acknowledge that he is entitled to hold it and these remarks (which were clearly signalled to reflect his own opinion and not the broadcaster) did not contain any aggressive incitement or derogatory language. Consequently, we will not be recording a breach of Rule 2.3 of the Code on this occasion.

    Thank you for taking the trouble to contact us.

    Yours sincerely”

    Make of it what you will…but I’m not best pleased.

  16. I think I’ll just look into my crystal ball. The response from Ofcom will be…..the BBC have done nothing wrong!

    They are no better than the BBC.

    I posted this in the “Viewers complain over BBC interview with anti-gay extremist” thread on the 6th January. Seems that I missed my calling and should talking up predicting the future.

    I’m disappointed with Ofcom…..but not surprised!

  17. David: “When was the last time someone was jailed for non-payment of a TV license?”

    People cant be imprisoned for not paying the licence. They get imprisoned for not paying the fines that come with it.

  18. Congratulations to all who sent responses to the BBC and OFFCOM.

    Although this is not the result we wanted from OFFCOM, however I do regard this outcome as sucessfull in another way; since OFFCOM have dictated the terms under which they will intervene . . . i.e aggressive incitement or derogatory language.

    Perhaps our next task is to test how OFFCOM define aggressive incitement or derogatory language with regards LGBT issues

    . . . . . . . . . .

  19. Homophobia will be ignored and denied by authorities once again. As predicted. That’s the Cameron effect.
    Gay tories —> Duhhh

  20. Everyone’s now being dutifully ignored and treated as whinging “pantomime dames”.

  21. As expected the BBC Newswatch programme this evening was worse than useless. It just gave the BBC another chance to say “we’re right and you’re wrong”

  22. Andrew Stephens 7 Jan 2011, 9:46pm

    Spanner, correct, however if you get to the fine stage then its you that have been the idiot.

  23. Are OFCOM Homophobic?

    Although OFCOM argue that they will intervene if a programme is in a breach of Rule 2.3 of the OFCOM broadcasting code, for example through: “aggressive incitement or derogatory language”; however there are certain cases of homophobic verbal abuse where OFCOM are powerless to intervene. The reason why, is because OFCOM are constrained by what is deemed currently acceptable at the time of the complaint. I think the following example shows how OFCOM may appear homophobic, but clearly your will see that they are powerless; not homophobic.

    When I wrote to OFCOM some years ago when the word Puff was used by one reality TV show contestant, to attack and putdown another contestant; the response I got back from OFCOM stated that this was not offensive. OFCOM cited “four Puffs and a Piano” as the reason why it was not an issue. OFCOM argued that the word was not offensive to gay men, because it was used as a form of entertainment by Gay men; citing the bands appearance on the Jonathan Ross Show as proof to why the use of the word was not in itself unacceptable.

    One does not need to point to “Four Puffs and a piano”. One only needs to take a look at the comments on this thread to understand why OFCOM are impotent.

  24. Four Pakis and a Piano on BBC next? Pakis use word themself so it ok!

  25. Liz Church 7 Jan 2011, 11:06pm

    Ofcom are probably homophobic, given that they are certainly transphobic. I recommend that you deal directly with the miscreants in future otherwise you give Ofcom a reason for their existence. Same applies to the PCC.

  26. Ofcom is spot on! As gays, we need to stop the frantic obsession with depriving others of their opinions if they happen to be homophobic. We live in a democracy – deal with it! From my own work with the BBC, I know that it has a strong commitment to gay rights/awareness, so claims of “institutional homophobia” are unfounded nonsense.

  27. Thanks for that comment Alex, and when Stephen Green and his ‘Christian’ chums roll back our hard won rights, or even when they are helping to put the noose around someone gay in Uganda, just keep reminding yourself, it’s a democracy, deal with it! Grow up for fks sake.

  28. Ofcom is spot on! As gays, we need to stop the frantic obsession with depriving others of their opinions if they happen to be homophobic. We live in a democracy – deal with it! From my own work with the BBC, I know that it has a strong commitment to gay rights/awareness, so claims of “institutional homophobia” are unfounded nonsense.

    Sadly you’re very much mistaken Alex. Apart from the recent cases detailed in Pink News, you need to consider why BBC children’s TV no longer tackles homophobic bullying, and indeed why they now regard ‘gay’ as a four-letter word.

    Improvements have been promised, but I’ve not noticed any difference. If you work for the BBC I suggest you start asking a few questions.

  29. For Heaven’s sake PN. MOVE ON GODAMMIT!!! This is last month’s loo paper. You are supposed to be reporting the news – not stirring up the more reactionary gay fundamentalists among your visitors into a foam-mouthed frenzy. The BBC has explained its reasoning and will not budge. But then it also won’t budge on a dozen other issues for reasons it will never justify, such as its unyielding support of Israel and its stance on AGW global warning. It is a law unto its Whitehall masters and its mandate is to spew its propaganda forth to the masses. Your perpetual whining on this now non-issue won’t make one iota of a difference. Deal with it!

  30. Hello, I am William, BBC is pro Israel, pro Tory, pro gay, and something about global warming, I am not paranoid lunatic, I appear on BBC next week as special guest.

    Kill the gays! Kill the Jews! My opinion deserve hearing.

  31. yeah, i’ll go to prison for non payment of a license fee.

    but if i persecute/threaten gays i’ll get off scott free?

    for once, i’ll agree with the daily fail: “ban the BBC license fee”.

    i’ll pay the license when the BEEB are not being c**ts.

  32. Dave wrote:
    As expected the BBC Newswatch … …just gave the BBC another chance to say “we’re right and you’re wrong”

    Yes, a chap (named Alex I think) did put forth the concerns of many of us but it was equally an opportunity to show Stephen Green’s 30 seconds of homophobia once again…he is no expert on surrogacy or on the dynamics of families and so really is just a representative of the anti-gay industry given a privileged opportunity to spout irrational & unevidenced pronouncements.

    Last nights Newswatch here:
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00qjrk2

  33. Correction: It was the lovely Ian Arnott who spoke against the BBC’s choice to air anti-gay Stephen Green’s unprofessional opposing opinions.

    Last night’s Newswatch:
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00qjrk2

  34. The BBC seem desperate to be on their own news programs.

    Lets face it they can’t do sitcoms.

    Real news is absent despite the vast amount of reporters.

    And their drama is predictable and monotonous.

    Even the nature programs are better on other channels.

    I guess they are failing at being creative so getting attention is the only thing left.

  35. JohnK:
    > Perhaps our next task is to test how OFFCOM define
    > aggressive incitement or derogatory language with regards LGBT
    > issues

    You seem to have answered that already:

    > Although OFCOM argue that they will intervene if a programme is
    > in a breach of Rule 2.3 of the OFCOM broadcasting code, for
    > example through: “aggressive incitement or derogatory language”;
    > however there are certain cases of homophobic verbal abuse where
    > OFCOM are powerless to intervene. The reason why, is because
    > OFCOM are constrained by what is deemed currently acceptable at
    > the time of the complaint.

    I can confirm, from the results of multiple complaints, that the same very much applies to transphobic language. But it is OFCOM, in framing their own Code and procedures (which were then rubber-stamped by parliament) that decided, and very clearly still decides, to be a non-regulating regulator(as was very much the expectation under Blair, and enforced by the choice of heads of the regulatory bodies) when it comes to sexual minorities.

    However, it is very much up to OFCOM, with every complaint, to decide how to assess what is currently acceptable. Usually they just dismiss things on the basis that they don’t think the majority of the public would see anything wrong, which is a patently discriminatory test when applied to minorities against whom there is widespread prejudice, and whom OFCOM has a legal duty to protect from discrimination. But, if they wish, they can take almost anything as an indication that something is unacceptable. The fact that they chose not to find any transphobic, and most homophobic language derogatory is therefore plain evidence of their own discrimination.

  36. OFCOM’s response to michael, liverpool
    > We assessed the news report against Rule 2.3 of the Ofcom
    > Broadcasting Code which requires broadcasters to ensure material
    > that has the potential to offend to be justified in view of the
    > context.
    >
    > As you know, the item explained that Elton John and David
    > Furnish became fathers to a surrogate baby boy on Christmas Day
    > and briefly chronicled the couples’ history from their civil
    > partnership in 2005 to their previous unsuccessful application
    > to adopt an Ukrainian child in 2009. The article therefore had a
    > celebratory tone which was briefly countered by Mr Green who
    > said that “it was an act of pure selfishness to deprive a boy of
    > a father and a mother”.
    >
    > Whilst we fully recognise that many consider Mr Green’s view to
    > be naïve and archaic, we must acknowledge that he is entitled to
    > hold it and these remarks (which were clearly signalled to
    > reflect his own opinion and not the broadcaster) did not contain
    > any aggressive incitement or derogatory language. Consequently,
    > we will not be recording a breach of Rule 2.3 of the Code on
    > this occasion.

    A typical OFCOM non-response. No one was questioning Mr Green’s right to hold his views, which were clearly derogatory. The issue was whether the choice of the BBC to see it as necessary too use such views on the national news in order to “counter” the “congratulatory tone” of a report about a pop-megastar having a child by surrogate was “justified in view of the context”. OFCOM have ignored that.

    They could have compared it to criticisms aired of Madonna adopting an African child, and perhaps rejected the complaints on that ground (although the campaigners against trans-border adoption don’t call for the death of the potential adopting parent, and Mr Green isn’t much known as an anti-surrogacy campaigner), but they didn’t bother. Instead they let it stand that airing a gay story justifies publicity for a homophobe.

    Surely the essential issue is why a UK public broadcaster sees sexual orientation as a controversial matter that is a subject to debate in which homophobes need to be represented?

    They would no longer dream to do that on a story concerning an ethnic minority, disabled people, or women.

    The only “opposition” comes from religious factions who, ever since they separated off, have demonised us as a way to differentiate themselves and grow their cults. They will never stop demonising us until, maybe, it ceases to get them publicity. So the BBC requiring them to be given that publicity actively perpetuates the discrimination they started and continue to promote.

    The BBC editorial stand is active discrimination.

    All public bodies in the UK are supposed to be subject to a legal requirement not to discriminate, and will soon be required to promote equality. The BBC has demanded to be exempt from that requirement in respect of its output. Channel Four too. The Labour government immediately agreed to the demand but actually did nothing to implement that. The current government ran a consultation on it last year, and is currently considering the matter. There is still time to use this new example to press that the BBC not be exempt from the duty to promote equality.

    OFCOM is also subject to the same laws but has been allowed to ignore them (except, as always, in respect to its own employees). It should have updated its Code to take account of the later legislation providing protection on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity, but has not done so. The were asked EHRC to raise this with them, but they apparently decided broadcasting was not one of their priority areas.

  37. I didn’t receive a repl;y from the BBC, but that may be my fault for not asking for one. I have now complained to the BBC trust regarding this matter, although OFCOM, as stated, was a pointless exercise, practically speaking. One can only hope that the anger generated will be treated with aforethought and change will come eventually.

  38. This is my response to the BBC if anyone’s interested. If they give an unsatisfactory reply (which I’m thinking is inevitable) I will contact the BBC Trust.

    This response is frankly outrageous.

    - First of all, sending an automated response to each person who complains is frankly unforgivable. My complaint was clearly not read as it was about institutional homophobia, not just about the interview with Stephen Green. To treat people who pay for everything the BBC does (including your wages I might add) with such blatant disregard is frankly unforgivable.

    - Secondly, your argument that Stephen Green was interviewed to provide ‘balance’ would be laughable if it wasn’t so frightening. Would you itnerview someone who had called for the murder of all black people? Stephen Green has supported the execution of gay people – who are innocent of any crime other than ‘being gay’. Does the BBC support this? It would appear to be the case.

    - Thirdly, to state that you are refusing to provide complaint figures because of ‘evidence of lobbying’ is ludicrous, crass, insulting and cowardly. Do you think that communication between like-minded people invalidates the point? Do you think street protests are invalid unless each person goes out individually on different days? The fact is, the only strength gay people have is in numbers. And yet when we decide to make a stand, we are ignored because of ‘lobbying’. This is outrageous.

    - Fourthly, the BBC is one of the most powerful and undemocratic organisations in the world. We have to pay for you (or go to prison), and we never have the opportunity to vote on anything you do. With that comes vast responsibility to protect minorities – just as you do ethnic minorities.

    Lastly, I would like you to answer (not avoid) a question which has been asked many times but the BBC has so far avoided:

    ‘If a mixed race couple adopted a child, would you itnerview a member of the KKK to provide ‘balance’?’

    I’m hoping for a direct answer for once – but I’m not holding my breath.

    Helen Seymour

  39. So here we go..another load of people jumping onto another campaign bandwagon and making wild unsubstantiated comments without any concrete facts to base them on.
    So the BBC is institutionally homophobic then? I suppose that’s why they commissioned a report early last year looking at how they portayed homosexuals on television. Hardly the actions of a right-wing gay bashing organisation is it? Of course when faced with this some people simply pass it off as a PR stunt..they can’t win!
    And why, if they hate gays so much would they pay a very high profile gay (Graham Norton) such a mammoth salary and allow him to in effect be the face of BBC Light Entertainment?
    By all means don’t pay your TV licence..go to jail if you really want to (but somehow I don’t think anyone on here really is willing to go the whole hog) but remember what the alternatives are. The BBC is still THE best channel in the world in my opinion and caters to all tastes (as it should). The alternative of an advert soaked, repeat driven world of Take Me Out, or King Murdoch TV fills me with terror. Be careful what you wish for.
    And one final..don’t be surprised when all the right wing Christians refuse to pay their licence fees in protest at having to endure John Barrowman on a Saturday night. Personally, I wouldn’t blame them….

  40. Dave, “King Murdoch TV”, you are a paranoid conspiracy maniac!

    You see no difference from BBC News and BBC Entertainment?

    You hate more people than you like.

  41. Stephen Andrews 8 Jan 2011, 8:19pm

    So Dave, this BBC report on how they portray Homosexuals was this filed away under B for Bin ? I dont know the contents of this report but I think something went wrong somewhere or maybe it was Mr green who carried out this report for the BBC….

    I understand the BBC has to balance out news reports, why didnt the BBC interview someone such as The Pope. We know the Catholic Church’s stance on homosexuality and parenting but at least Pope Benedict doesn’t want us dead !!

    As for Graham Norton, he is a bit like Stonewall, he thinks he is the face of the Gay community hence the BBC hired him but in reality he is hated.

    As for not paying for the TV license, it is easy not to and get away with it. However it is a nightmare to go through with it and tbh I would love the fight and as I said before I am not paying to watch news programs with people wanting me dead due to my sexuality.

    As for John Barrowman, there is a slight difference between him and Mr green, John doesnt want people dead !!

  42. Dr Robin Guthrie 8 Jan 2011, 8:44pm

    “David: “Do NOT pay your TV license.
    Simple as that. ”

    Go to prison for non-payment.
    Simple as that.

    A bit like being a sad little loser who accepts his worthless little life as a
    cash cow for whatever your masters demand.

    You Sir are the idiot.

  43. Yurifury retorts: Hello, I am William, BBC is pro Israel, pro Tory, pro gay, and something about global warming, I am not paranoid lunatic, I appear on BBC next week as special guest. Kill the gays! Kill the Jews! My opinion deserve hearing.

    I suppose your level of global awareness is confined to the pages of QX Magazine, YuriFury? I don’t suppose you are even aware that last month ITV screened a damning John Pilger (know who he is? Thought not!) documentary that hauled a toothless BBC news/propaganda representative over the coals for the very fact that the BBC beat the Government’s drums in the run-up to the genocidal invasion of Iraq, and has been processing its news output subject to Government scrutiny ever since. Do yourself a favour and get a real education and check out the acclaimed documentary maker Pilger’s ITV documentary THE WAR YOU DON’T SEE to see what we are really up against with the corrupt Big Brother Corporation:

    http://www.itv.com/itvplayer/video/?Filter=198443

    Serious as it is, it rather puts the Elton vs. Green squabble stirred up by PN into some kind of perspective…

  44. @Dave

    Tend to agree that the BBC is a generally very good service and worth the licence fee. There is a caveat – see my response to Alex (8 January 2011, 12:16am)

  45. Hello, I am William, I read pages of Communist Paper and think I very clever!

    Death to Jews! Death to Gays! I very clever man.

  46. miketruth 9 Jan 2011, 9:28am

    If you want to protest, just stop watching BBC News! Watch Channel 4 News with the fantastic Ben Cohen instead.

  47. “Surely the essential issue is why a UK public broadcaster sees sexual orientation as a controversial matter that is a subject to debate in which homophobes need to be represented?”

    Spot on, oatc. The double standards are the reason I was so angry. The BBC and OFCOM can’t be stupid. They must realise the argument we’re making. So all I can deduce is that they KNOWING treat LGBT people as somehow less than other minorities.

  48. Sorry – KNOWINGLY

  49. oatc . . . thanks for your message, which sort of confirms my understanding that OFCOM appear to work on the spurious notion of what is “acceptable at the time”; which leaves me with a number of further questions which need to be anwsered.

    1.Who is deciding what is acceptable at the time?

    2.What guidelines are being used to establish what is accetable?

    3.What is currently unaccetable according to OFCOM with regards LGBT issues.?

    The other issue which your raise concerns me greatly . . .

    “All public bodies in the UK are supposed to be subject to a legal requirement not to discriminate, and will soon be required to promote equality. The BBC has demanded to be exempt from that requirement in respect of its output. Channel Four too. The Labour government immediately agreed to the demand but actually did nothing to implement that”

    Do we know what the new Con-Lib administrations views are on this issue?

    Perhaps we might be able to lobby for the BBC and Channel 4 not to be exempt from promoting equality.

    Is this not obscene in the 21st century, that the mass media seeks to be exempt from promoting equality in its programmes; and reporting with regards LGBT issues?

  50. I’ve written back to OFCOM questioning their response — which seems to be similar to that received by other people — with the following:

    “Thank you for your email. I would be grateful if you could clarify something for me. You say in your penultimate paragraph:

    Whilst we fully recognise that many consider Mr Green’s view to be naïve and archaic, we must acknowledge that he is entitled to hold it and these remarks (which were clearly signalled to reflect his own opinion and not the broadcaster) did not contain any aggressive incitement or derogatory language. Consequently, we will not be recording a breach of Rule 2.3 of the Code on this occasion.

    I fully agree that Mr Green can hold whatever views he chooses, and I emphasise that there was nothing in my original submission to suggest that I don’t. However, I disagree with your assertion that he did not employ derogatory language. Rule 2.3 of your code requires that broadcasters ensure that potentially offensive material is justified by the context, and that offensive material can include offensive language and discriminatory treatment or language (where discrimination can be on the grounds of sexual orientation). During the interview, Mr Green said:

    “This isn’t just a designer baby for Sir Elton John, this is a designer accessory … [cut]. Now it seems like money can buy him anything, and so he has entered into this peculiar arrangement … [cut] … The baby is a product of it. A baby needs a mother and it seems an act of pure selfishness to deprive a baby of a mother.”

    This is manifestly offensive. It impugns his motives; it suggests he regards the child, not as a son, not as a human being, but as an object. It suggests that his great wealth has allowed to do something dubious and of doubtful propriety. Finally, it implies the absence of a mother is detrimental to a child. It implies that he and his partner are undeserving of their legal rights.

    That it is discriminatory is also manifest. Mr Green would not make a similar statement about an affluent heterosexual couple who had a child by a surrogate. It is purely because the two people involved are homosexual.

    I can see no justification for the inclusion of Mr Green’s opinions provided by the context of the piece. The report was carried out by the entertainment correspondent and was, as you suggest, light and upbeat in tone. This is not the context for including serious political, social, or ethical commentary. The reality of the situation is that homosexual people enjoy the same rights to surrogacy as heterosexual couples, and have for some time. There is no prohibition, legal or ethical, on wealthy people having children by surrogate. Nor is there is evidence to suggest that the absence of a mother is detrimental to the child. This is the context of the piece, and I can’t see how it provides for any justification of Mr Green’s remarks.

    Mr Green used offensive language motivated by a desire to discriminate on grounds of sexual orientation. This is a violation of rule 2.3, and I ask that you re-examine the issue.”

  51. Harry, thanks for sharing this new ofcom correspondence.

    I will also send a note to ofcom based on the ideas in your letter concerning the violation of rule 2.3.

    JK

  52. Good letter, Harry.

  53. On Channel 4 this evening at about 8pm they asked: Should white parents be allowed to adopt non-white children? They said – share your thoughts at

    http://www.4thought.tv

    Is that debate relevant to the Elton row? Perhaps they could equally well have asked if black parents should be allowed to adopt white children, but they might have been more worried about accusations of racism.

  54. JohnK: Do we know what the new Con-Lib administrations views are on this issue?

    Like most other things, Lynne Featherstone and her Lib Dem chums sold out on equality issues.

  55. Re homophobia on TV, am I the only person who took exception to Derren Brown’s remark on his Channel 4 show – ENIGMA?

  56. @dave — you might have to give us a bit more to go on !

  57. @ Harry

    Derren asked audience member to write down some random words, which he says will tell a lot about the person who uses them, including the person’s apporoach to sex and sexuality in general. Greg chooses a few words and Derren suggests jokingly that a social psychologist would class someone choosing those words as an “A3 personality” which he says “most of us would think of as pervert, a dirty person, a perverted individual …”

    A minute or two later Greg chooses more words, one of which is ‘Ferrari.’ Derren responds with “Ferrari cars normally give us a couple of things. First of all Grrr I’m not gay from Greg. But also wheels, round shapes …”

  58. Are we maybe overreacting just a bit to every remotely homophobic thing on the BBC?

  59. ofcom and word poof

    http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/enforcement/broadcast-bulletins/obb96/

    1 July 2007 and 4 July 2007 , Laura Williams

    Around 200 viewers complained about two separate incidents in which Laura Williams used the word “poof

    …….etc

  60. sorry here was part of ofcoms excuse not to do anything…

    “…We first considered the incidents related to Laura Williams in the light of Rules 2.1 and 2.3 (generally accepted standards). In Ofcom’s opinion, generally accepted standards were applied to this material and adequate context was given. In our view, it is not possible or appropriate at present to establish definitively the degree of offence use of the word “poof” can cause in all contexts. For example, i t is clear that within the gay community itself, the word “poof” can be used in a playful, affectionate or self-deprecating way. This is evidenced, for example, by the use of the word in Friday Night with Jonathan Ross ….”

    it goes on to give other reasons as well!

  61. JohnK:
    > oatc . . . thanks for your message, which sort of confirms my
    > understanding that OFCOM appear to work on the spurious notion
    > of what is “acceptable at the time”; which leaves me with a
    > number of further questions which need to be anwsered.
    >
    > 1.Who is deciding what is acceptable at the time?

    OFCOM

    > 2.What guidelines are being used to establish what is acceptable?

    What they can let big broadcasters get away with.

    > 3.What is currently unacceptable according to OFCOM with regards
    > LGBT issues.?

    Only what, after the broadcaster has throw their finest brains at crafting excuses, the wider public would not accept, as gauged by OFCOM whilst sniffing the ground, reading the Daily Mail, and maybe commissioning a poll or a focus group.

    Believe me, they are even worse on trans offensiveness.

    > The other issue which your raise concerns me greatly . . .
    >
    > “All public bodies in the UK are supposed to be subject to a
    > legal requirement not to discriminate, and will soon be required
    > to promote equality. The BBC has demanded to be exempt from that
    > requirement in respect of its output. Channel Four too. The
    > Labour government immediately agreed to the demand but actually
    > did nothing to implement that”
    >
    > Do we know what the new Con-Lib administrations views are on
    > this issue?
    >
    > Perhaps we might be able to lobby for the BBC and Channel 4 not
    > to be exempt from promoting equality.

    This was part of a consultation on the Public Sector Equality Duty (see http://tinyurl.com/34c2q8r on the EHRC site) by the Government Equality Office that ended in November. A response was submitted saying why the BBC and Channel Four must not be exempt, along with arguing that the professional bodies and association that set guidelines and educate in the medical field should also be included in respect of those public functions. The normal acknowledgment was received. There has been no request for further information.

    It was raised at a meeting with the minister in December, but she didn’t respond.

    Officially they are considering the response to the consultation.

    There is nothing to stop people adding their support to those views expressed in the consultation. Ms Featherstone, Mr Clegg (who chairs a cross-department equality committee), and the Culture secretary, Jeremy Hunt (who is now responsible for media) would seem suitable recipients.

    > Is this not obscene in the 21st century, that the mass media
    > seeks to be exempt from promoting equality in its programmes;
    > and reporting with regards LGBT issues?

    Yes, I think so. Their arguments that it would put them at a disadvantage compared with the commercial and foreign broadcasters, that it would undermine editorial standards, and that their products would be made unsuited for foreign markets, all boil down to thinking that equality is not their concern, to arrogance.

  62. Iris:
    > The BBC and OFCOM can’t be stupid. They must realise the
    > argument we’re making. So all I can deduce is that they KNOWING
    > treat LGBT people as somehow less than other minorities.

    I think they would officially see it as being “light touch” regulators, and unofficially as being clever, in a ‘Yes Minister’ sort of way.

  63. I can imagine that, oatc (your Yes, Minister was a great help :D). But are they also doing some kind of 1984 doublethink where what’s obviously offensive when considering race, magically becomes inoffensive/just a bit of a joke when LGBT people are the target.

    Seems like that to me…

  64. @Dave — sorry, I can’t find anything remotely objectionable in Derren Brown’s remark. I’ve read your transcript and watched the programme.

    His remark satirizes a certain type of man who is determined to advertize his concept of masculinity, and would probably characterize that concept with phrases like ‘I’m not gay’.

    You know that Derren Brown is gay ?

  65. Maybe you will not be jailed for not paying you TV license. But you may well be jailed for not paying the fine.

  66. @Harry

    Yes I knew Derren is gay

  67. @Dave — I guess it’s difficult not to with the ‘Derren Brown speaks of his “perfect” boyfriend’ story reappearing in the top stories panel !

    Genuinely can’t see anything offensive in what he said though.

  68. dave “Are we maybe overreacting just a bit to every remotely homophobic thing on the BBC?”

    Perish the thought!!
    I think everyone on here overreacts to anything that has a gay topic. If it is even in the slightest way critical of LGBT people, it is immediately branded ‘homophobic’.

    Contrary to popular opinion, many people are LGBT *and* dickheads.

  69. Spanner wrote

    “I think everyone on here overreacts to anything that has a gay topic. If it is even in the slightest way critical of LGBT people, it is immediately branded ‘homophobic’.”

    Spanner . . . Except you.!

    Spanner . . . Have you ever wondered why you might be in a minority on this issue?

    Spanner . . . in what way does defamation and incitment to murder, fall into the category of being only a slight criticism of LGBT people?

  70. It true Derren make bad remarks about Gay people, he not comfortable with his sexuality.

    Why we no see mention of his boyfriend on “Behind The Mischief”? Only parents. It big scam not intimate portrait of Derren Brown only five minute interview with his parrot.

  71. Does anyone agree with me that Elton might just be a bit too old to have a baby? I say this as a general thing and nothing to do with the fact that he’s gay. I’d have concerns about a straight man in his 60s having a new baby. I wonder what the real motivation was in this case….

  72. Iris:
    > I can imagine that, oatc (your Yes, Minister was a great help :D
    > ). But are they also doing some kind of 1984 doublethink where
    > what’s obviously offensive when considering race, magically
    > becomes inoffensive/just a bit of a joke when LGBT people are
    > the target.

    There are ways ethnicity is handled, and women, and others, that are highly offensive too.

    To be candid, and as a woman who has dealt with them on many discrimination issues over more than 3 decades and is always very eager to note improvements, I think that, aside from occasional staff, or particular campaigns, its pretty much a universal approach in respect of supposedly protected minorities and across UK government departments and agencies to try to, at least initially dismiss offensiveness or other discrimination. As I said, there is an official emphasis on “light touch” regulation (which was a Tory thing, and was then adopted by “New Labour”).

    At the beginning there was some keen concern, but then Thatcher appointed agency heads with quite other ideas…

    It could be stupidity in the face of the many complications, subtleties, contradictions, and some over sensitivities, but these are highly intelligent people who can access any additional expertise they need. It might be laziness, it might be conservativism…

    With perspective I’m grateful for every advance, every understanding, and just try to ensure that they get codified and universally accepted.

  73. @ Dave – No, no one agrees with you, except probably spanner.

  74. The government has now published their response to the consultation on the Public Sector Equality Duty,and their proposed list of public bodies to which they intend it to apply. The BBC, Channel Four, and the medical professional bodies are all excluded. There is no information on why. They do not bother to say.

    > The Government will be finalising the draft Order amending
    > Schedule 19 to the Equality Act [ .DOC at
    > http://tinyurl.com/6g5cj7v ], which sets out the list of public
    > bodies to which the general Equality Duty will apply, and laying
    > it before Parliament for debate in late January 2011.

    The draft order says:
    |
    | 1. After the entry for “the armed forces” insert the following
    | headings and entries—
    |
    | Broadcasting
    |
    | The British Broadcasting Corporation (“BBC”), except in respect
    | of functions relating to the provision of a content service
    | (within the meaning given by section 32(7) of the Communications
    | Act 2003()); and the reference to the BBC includes a reference
    | to a body corporate which—
    |
    | (a) is a wholly owned subsidiary of the BBC,
    |
    | (b) is not operated with a view to generating a profit, and
    |
    | (c) undertakes activities primarily in order to promote the
    | BBC’s public purposes.
    |
    | The Channel 4 Television Corporation, except in respect of—
    |
    | (a) functions relating to the provision of a content service
    | (within the meaning given by section 32(7) of the Communications
    | Act 2003), and
    |
    | (b) the function of carrying on the activities referred to in
    | section 199 of that Act().
    |
    | The Welsh Authority (as defined by section 56(1) of the
    | Broadcasting Act 1990()), except in respect of functions
    | relating to the provision of a content service (within the
    | meaning given by section 32(7) of the Communications Act 2003).

    This would be the time to raise this with MPs and in the media.

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