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Comment: BBC News was biased against same-sex marriage over Christmas

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  1. I am usually a big fan of the Beeb but their handling of Equal Marriage issues – not just over Christmas but for the last few months – has been disgracefully biased towards opponents.
    Can’t understand why. The right wing usually criticise the Beeb for having a left wing bias. Not in this case, it seems. I have written to complain. They must and do take complaints seriously.

    1. It’s because the tories suggested it basically. The mail wouldn’t have been supportive if it was a labour move, stuff like this is to be expected unfortunately.

  2. I agree 100%. The BBC have behaved disgracefully other this Christmas. Their reporting has been without any balance and seems to show the BBC’s support for the Anti brigade. I have made 3 complaints over their reporting of this issue. I don’t expect anything will come of it. But if we do not complain you can be sure nothing will change.

  3. PantoHorse 28 Dec 2012, 6:57pm

    Same same for the beeb

  4. I too have complained to the BBC over their coverage. Over the Christmas period I have been unable to watch much television news but their online coverage of the anti-gay marriage views has been entirely without balance. No pro-gay marriage opinions whatsoever.

  5. Maybe they thought it would be unfair to put the anti-equality brigade’s crap arguments up to much scrutiny. The church’s rantings seem to be doing nothing but favours for us in the court of public opinion. So while I agree with the commentators complaint I can’t say I’m that upset, I’m quite happy to give the religious loons enough rope with which to hang themselves, the BBC may be being smarter than you give them credit for…. Though I doubt it!!!

    1. Plus if they were to comprehensively destroyed in a debate I wouldn’t want them getting the underdog vote!

    2. Robert in S. Kensington 28 Dec 2012, 7:50pm

      With a catholic as DG, I very much doubt it has anything to do with being smarter, quite the opposite. Chris Patten is doing Nichols’ bidding. They have an agenda and that is to make equal marriage fail in spite of growing support for it. I bet if Ben Summerskill requested a meeting, it would be denied.

  6. Dan Filson 28 Dec 2012, 7:13pm

    I disagree. The BBC has rightly given coverage to the rather unusual situation of senior clerics in both RC and CofE sects fulminating about equal marriage as part of their Christmas messages. So much for the season of goodwill. The coverage has allowed these bigots the rope to hang themselves, and will I believe accentuate the drift from their churches as more and more young and many middle-aged people feel they no longer speak for them but at them.

    1. GulliverUK 28 Dec 2012, 7:16pm

      It does seem every paper from here to Africa to India to Australia to the US is painting them as zealots and bigots. There is a renewed focus on people leaving the Catholic church, and they’ve probably done far more reputational damage than drawn people to their cause.

    2. I would suggest that bigot is rather a newspeak term and really weakens your argument against people of a different opinion.

  7. GulliverUK 28 Dec 2012, 7:13pm

    The editorial guidelines are dry reading and extensive, but this actually sounds like editorial misconduct. But to prove that you’d have to give examples and dates/times and ask the BBC to carry out a formal investigation.

  8. I agree 100%. If I could stop supporting the BBC I would.

    1. Robert in S. Kensington 28 Dec 2012, 7:46pm

      There is one way you can. Just boycott the channel as I’m now doing. It acronym should stand for British Bigot Corporation. Hope it makes it to Stonewall’s 2013 bigot of the year award. In fact, we should all contact Ben Summerskill to look into it. I’m surprised Summerskill hasn’t commented already.

    2. Robert in S. Kensington 28 Dec 2012, 7:47pm

      There is one way you can. Just boycott the channel as I’m now doing. Its acronym should stand for British Bigot Corporation. Hope it makes it to Stonewall’s 2013 bigot of the year award. In fact, we should all contact Ben Summerskill to look into it. I’m surprised Summerskill hasn’t commented already.

      1. You are still supporting it through the license fee. One more reason I’m happy I don’t own a TV!

      2. I hardly watch any TV. 99 percent of programs are an absolute load of junk. Especially the BBC. But I did read the BBC news website. I won’t be doing anymore. If I could, I would stop paying the license fee. I’m sick of these publicly funded civil servants getting away with it.

  9. Whatever the religious want, the BBC happily oblige; from the revolting sycophantic coverage of Pope Ratzi’s visit and programmes uncritical of islam to excluding Secular Philosophy from Radio 4’s Thought for the day. Previous DG of the BBC was Mark Thompson, a catholic and present Chair of the Governors is Chris Patten another catholic.

  10. Robert (Kettering) 28 Dec 2012, 7:25pm

    I was repulsed by the BBC news coverage given to the homophobic bigots in the church and judiciary. Simply apalling and they should be hald to account for their bias against the LGBT community.

    1. Everyone is entitled to an opinion. Deal with it.

  11. I complained about their one side coverage and some time ago complained about their decision to restrict “Thought For The Day” on radio 4 to the religious. As if people like Richard Dawkins, AC. Grayling and Peter Cook (not the late comedian) Stephen Fry, have no useful thoughts to offer. Their number is 02087438000

    I have a feeling that this bias comes from the “BBC Trust”. and it’s crypto theocrat leadership.

  12. GulliverUK 28 Dec 2012, 7:41pm

    I didn’t see any of it because, frankly, the BBC News coverage of pretty much anything is shambolic, full of factual errors, occasionally quite biased or confrontational, and lacks the depth that people interested in a particular topic need. However, I’ve had a quick look over the articles and clips and there is a definite bias in these reports – this comes from someone who spent a decade working for them. It’s a disgrace.

  13. Robert in S. Kensington 28 Dec 2012, 7:42pm

    The article is all well and good but this isn’t going anywhere. I don’t think many among the LGBT community will be writing to the BBC because of apathy and complacency even though I did. I don’t expect it to back down but it will continue its support of the anti brigade. It raises the question why we’re compelled to pay for our tv licences. Someone like Ben Summerskill ought to have a meeting with Chris Patten and find out why the bias and why so much prominence over the Christmas holiday of all times? Bigger audience exposure perhaps?

    Until then I’m just not going to watch any BBC programmes as a protest. I actually included that in my letter as well as the issue of paying tv licences to an organisation which doesn’t provide fair fair and equal coverage.

    1. I also wrote (tho I won’t be finger-pointing at those who did not). Additionally, I called the BBC, registered my complaint and requested a telephone reply to which they agreed. Three days later, they are still “looking for someone to handle the matter” is seems.

      I wouldn’t hold out much hope of Summerskill being useful.

    2. I complained using the BBC on-line complaints but as they get so many from me, they’ll probably ignore it.

      Robert in S. Kensington is correct when he says that not many will contact the BBC to complain. It is a sad fact that some people on this forum and various atheists forums I frequent are usually happy to preach to the converted but are otherwise inactive. Personally, I like to be a professional nuisance to the religious bigots, if we don’t complain, how will they know?

      “One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.” — Plato

      1. “various atheists forums I frequent are usually happy to preach to the converted but are otherwise inactive” – why the attack on atheism! we aren’t a movement, per se. why is that people believe the ebc [english broadcasting corporation!] are a democratic institution? they really show no interest in balanced coverage of gay issues. and with yet another report, they won’t change the bias, regardless of the nuisance value you bring to them!

        1. You misunderstand my post, I did not attack atheism, merely using it as an example. BTW I came out as an atheist over 40 years ago when I was 15 and have endeavoured to give religion a good kicking whenever possible.
          I said “if we don’t complain, how will they know?” The BBC do sit up and take notice when the religious lobby are offended, so a one sided democracy then.

    3. Well to point out the obvious, the Christmas holidays are obviously about Christmas. So they will cover Christian views.

  14. Christopher Hobe Morrison 28 Dec 2012, 7:47pm

    I listened to the coverage ob BBC radio, and I read the coverage on the BBC web sites. I did not watch the television coverage because people overseas are not allowed to watch BBC television, so maybe I missed something.

    What I can say is that whetever bias was there could be easily seen through. Did anybody who listened, watched, or read what the people you mentioned said, not see that they were illiterate homophobic, sexist bigots? Sometimes with the BBC you have to step back a bit from the obvious and try to figure out what the people who wrote the story are thinking.

    That the BBC maintains it doesn’t have to answer for its editorial decisions is of course a moronic statement, and they should at least think about what their budgets are going to look like in the future, and they should also think about whether other networks will be created that might be more responsive to their listeners.

    1. GulliverUK 28 Dec 2012, 8:05pm

      The editorial guidelines are very clear on all of this, and taken very seriously (at least when I was there). So far I think there is a significant case to answer, and it certainly deserves a letter to ask them to carry out a formal review.

      Unfortunately BBC iPlayer doesn’t have the BBC News replays, but judging by the fact that there is no video of anyone speaking in opposition to Nichols, that appears to be a breech of the code, especially as it was clear they never challenged what he was saying – he was given free reign. They also failed because the topic was “controversial” and broadcast on Christmas Day – that should have required them to have an interview with an alternative view. It’s very shoddy.

    2. Trouble is, a lot of the people watching are ” illiterate homophobic, sexist bigots” too. The BBC isn’t helping by bolstering their ignorance with unchallenged prejudice.

  15. I agree – the coverage was biased. On Christmas Day itself I put the BBC teletext service on and the top headline was that vile, hate-filled bishop. Unbelievable! Why on earth was that given top-billing?

    Then soon after the top headline was the judge and his ‘minorities aren’t worth giving rights to’ cr@p. Despicable.

    It’s alright saying that people will see through the bigotry but so many don’t. I’ve already heard someone quote that idiotic percentage of LGBT people the judge gave, and I’ve also heard someone say that ‘gay people don’t really want to get married anyway’. They pick up all this rot from reading headlines like the BBC’s where lies are allowed to flourish.

    Imagine if someone had lied about the percentage of another minority. I doubt they’d have publicised that without a correction.

    I’m disgusted by the way the BBC is treating equal marriage. They’re supposed to be neutral, not a publicity mouthpiece for lying bigots.

  16. Andrew Hawkins-Kennedy 28 Dec 2012, 8:46pm

    I have also complained about the terribly negative and one sided reporting but have received no reply. I’m continually astounded that they think they can get away with it. It makes me doubt all their other news. They support evil religious institutions all the way down the line always giving the extremely bigoted a voice. I am very tired of the bigots saying that we are bigots for not accepting their point of view, if this were about race they would be arrested.

  17. An excellent comment piece by David Mason.

    I shared many of his thoughts when I saw the reports. Completely one-sided, and a disgrace.

  18. I am delighted others are on to the case about the BBC News and Current Affairs’ unwillingness to treat LGBT issues fairly. I made this point earlier this year after the marriage issue kicked off. The BBC has never held the authorities to account on dealing with homophobic hate crimes, discrimination or school safety. It treats LGBT issues as a religious issue. It ignores the extremist ambitions and associations of religious anti-gay spokespeople brought into studios for balance. It effectively offers religious leaders audiences, not interviews, often with no LGBT viewpoint. Robert Pigott is the worst of them all. Make your complaint known to BBC News. See also

  19. I imagine most people will reach for the zapper, or even throw something at the TV as soon as the likes of Nichols appears on screen.

    They are no longer credible advocates for any moral cause.

  20. I was thinking about this the other day. The amount of air time given to equal-marriage opponents was excessive considering the institution is supposed to be non-biased.

    Though having said that the BBC does seem to be quite a homophobic institution in regards to their broadcasting procedures, and in comparison to the other major tv networks they are abysmal. (also anyone care to wade into the sexist culture at the company?) Shame really… anyone fathom an idea of how we could get them to change?..

  21. I have to agree with the writer of this comment piece. The lack of impartiality was appalling.

    I have contacted the BBC to complain and await their response. Not convinced it will be very satisfactory.

    1. Robert in S. Kensington 29 Dec 2012, 12:48am

      Don’t expectd any response, Neil. Unless someone such as Ben Summerskill intervenes, it will continue giving the anti equal marriage group as much coverage as possible.

  22. Did I miss Christmas again????

  23. Archbishop of Westminster attacks gay marriage plan

    This bit is nothing more than a platform to put forward the Catholic viewpoint, without any questioning from the BBC, without any mention of alternative views, no link to an opposing or different view, no balance at all. No mention that some people take a different view.

    1. This was precisely the article I complained to them about. I agree entirely with what you say. No differing opinion or view at all. Bereft of balance. It could quite easily be a statement on an anti-gay marriage website. Of course the anti-gay marriage view point is to be presented but surely not be presented without contrast. It’s hard to believe, given how the BBC are notorious for trying as hard as they can to be objective, that the lack of objectivity wasn’t noticed and therefore you’d have to conclude that it was probably deliberate. I don’t want to make this an anti-BBC thing where we all mention the 1001 gripes we have with the organisation. In general, I like the BBC and think they’re a ‘good’ thing. But it’s only right that this is noticed.

  24. For me the issue wasn’t reporting what was said as much as reporting what was said without opposing opinions. If some Bishop of somewhere frightful (or nice) wants to have an anti-gay rant then I understand the news value of it. What I do not understand is a corporation like the BBC reporting it completely without seeking alternative points of view. But this is precisely what happened.

    1. I have already cancelled my BBC license fee.

      They can see me in court and I am prepared exactly to explain, why I refuse to fund this homophobic organization.

      How dare they take my money every year and then piss on me with this crap.

      If it means jail time then so be it.

      My principles apply.

  25. I think the Beeb is probably institutionally homophobic, heterosexist and gender normative. Why, for instance, are there not same-sex dancing couples on its flagship Strictly Come Dancing show? TV broadcasters in other countries which have copied this show seem to have no problem with featuring same-sex dance routines as a matter of course, so why – at the beginning of the 21st century – is the archaic Beeb still drawing the line at doing likewise? If they are afraid it will alienate viewers then they are buying into a minority of homophobic bigots’ warped world view. Why would they willingly do this if it weren’t for the fact that for all their ‘commitment to diversity’ speak they are in reality a socially and politically reactionary organisation?

    1. It isn’t difficult to justify saying that it’s “institutionally homophobic”, because they have had, I believe, two reports now saying they aren’t doing their job properly, that they aren’t portraying LGBT issues correctly. And frankly they have rarely ever lives up to their charter in our case. They have no radio station for us, whilst they do for others, they have no programming for us, where they do for others, they show incredibly bias in BBC — always have done, since I was tiny I noticed how they always used the word “homosexual” and pronounced it “hom-o-sex-ual”. I couldn’t say that for 10 years, and now I can. They had a gay magazine programme for us long ago, but nothing in the last 10 years. Their web site covers us, adequately, educationally, and radio is good (documentaries), but news is homophobic.

  26. Personally, I think David Mason has missed the point. In running these stories the BBC has in fact furthered the cause of marriage equality, because it highlights just how unbalanced, unreasonable and frankly unhinged these senior clerics are.

    Without the BBC we would be at a great loss and at the mercy of truly biased journalism of the Murdoch & Torygraph variety, neither of which has ever been supportive of equality.

    1. It’s a fine line between allowing a homophobic bigot to whip up hate, that we would think was near crime-like, and which we know has terrible consequences, and allowing them to hang themselves on TV. Carefully worded homophobia won’t be as apparent to others as it is to you and I, who can easily read between the lines.

  27. Cancelled my TV license.

    See you in court.

    Please justify why I should pay it.

    1. Robert in S. Kensington 29 Dec 2012, 12:41am

      Well done, Dave. I’m going to do the same.

  28. Please complain – its fairly quick and easy via the BBC news website – simply click on ‘contact us’ & ‘complain’

    If we don’t make our voices heard then we can expect this kind of thing to be a chilling vision of things to come..

  29. Foot the website & complain! Make your voices heard!

    It takes 5 minutes


    1. Yes. Do it. It’s a piece of piss.

  30. Pavlos Prince of Greece 29 Dec 2012, 2:24am

    It was very easy predictable, that Catholic Church will use Christmas for anti same-sex marriage campaign. Was to Stonewall to difficult make at least statement on this? Media report, what is to report – and if opposite side have no interest to say or even better – do something (what about pretty, but laud manifestation alongside of Westminster Cathedral?), well, that is. No excuse for BBC of course for this clerical behavior(not for the first time, and not for the last, I suspect). Is now BBC something like new RAI, and United Kingdom – the newest colony of the Vatican (as Italy already is)? I hope, not at all. Catholic Church is simple incredible active in the last years, as Church of England still live in ‘permanent crisis’. Like strong beast in the territory of his weak ‘rival’.

    1. Lynne Featherstone wrote a strongly-worded piece attacking the Catholic church’s behaviour on boxing day, but it was largely ignored. The BBC website only mentions it to provide “balance” in their article about the judge. Who is more relevant to this story – a High Court judge, or someone who was until very recently the minister responsible for introducing marriage equality?

      1. Pavlos Prince of Greece 29 Dec 2012, 8:33pm

        Every time when some country debate same-sex marriage or civil partnership, Catholic Church behaves as if gay rights is an incredible important religious issue. Church wish be not ‘an’ simple part in this discussions, but ‘the’ part, even more, in some sense ‘moderator’ with right of ‘veto’ between two ‘extremists’, this of ultra right-wing and gay activists. Every public tribune in the world is seeing by Church as Sunday gospel tribune, something absolutely natural (as for the monarch – birth right to the crown). In contrary, gay activists participate in debates mostly only as spectators (when Church speak about us, but not for us) or go to the street (which all ways in history was tribune of opposition). That what exactly now is happen in France and UK, and some day in Germany or Italy. Its like eternal game between agressor and victim or very old scenario, where Church and gays are playing same old characters, as nothing has change since Oscar Wilde and Alan Turning. Sad.

  31. Right now there are six opinion pieces at the bottom of the pinknews main page. Only this one has the following disclaimer: “The views expressed by David Mason are his own and not those of”. Why is Pink News distancing themselves from this particular opinion piece?

  32. Complaining to the BBC will have no effect. If you do not receive live TV in your home or on iPlayer you do not have to pay for a TV license. I stopped mine after their coverage of Herr Ratzinger’s visit. It’s easy to do. You can find all the info you need on the BBC web site.

  33. Jock S. Trap 29 Dec 2012, 9:49am

    Too right and the BBC should be ashamed. I fail to see why I should pay my licience fee when they clearly have no wish to either be impartial or equal in it’s arguments.

  34. Eddie Clarke 29 Dec 2012, 11:15am

    I am glad to see this comment, as I was surprised that there was no reaction to this fairly high voltage reporting by the BBC of this strange issue. The complaint is that no contrary voices or comment were solicited. In fact similar pronouncements were made by Catholic bishops in France, Italy and Spain, so the hierarchy are obviously determined to make an issue of it. I don’t see why the BBC should be complicit in this strategy. It could have reported the Archbishops bar-end opinions with some balanced comment.

  35. Robert in S. Kensington 29 Dec 2012, 12:29pm

    Why doesn’t Ben Summerskill demand a meeting with the DG or counter the BBC’s bias? StonewallUK has been more than silent since that controversial ‘some people are gay, get over it’ bus advertisement several months ago.

  36. If the BBC were making any effort to cover this in a neutral way, the very first step would be to use neutral terminology. The antis invariably call it “gay marriage”, while the pros and the government use “equal marriage”. From the BBC News website search bar:

    “gay marriage”: 1421 hits
    “same-sex marriage”: 1093 hits
    “equal marriage”: 131 hits
    “marriage equality”: 114 hits
    “gender-neutral marriage”: 22 hits
    “same-gender marriage”: 5 hits

    Of course, “gay marriage” and “same-sex marriage” aren’t even accurate, as the ability for a couple to marry is based on their legal gender, not their sex or sexual orientation.

    1. In fairness to them it’s rarely a semantic that changes the issue at all and I’d rather not have a two paragraph caveat with every article all the same. There’s nothing wrong with the terminology ‘gay marriage’. I’ve never understood why some gay rights campaigners wish to ‘de-gay’ (who I think plays in goal for Man United) all the time and remove the word. Maybe because we think we get less empathy with it included but I’m happy to call it gay marriage knowing that people will know what it means.

      1. The main problem with the term “gay marriage” is that it excludes people who are currently not allowed to get married but are not gay, such as bi people in same-gender relationships, and straight trans people who haven’t obtained a gender recognition certificate yet (the process to get one is fairly long and convoluted). The reason the opponents always use “gay marriage” is because, unfortunately, the word “gay” does have negative connotations for a lot of people (“that’s so gay”) – I remember a survey a while back showing that a significant number of people will admit that they are only attracted to people of the same gender, but do not identify as “gay” or “homosexual”. I don’t think it would require any additional explanation if they just replaced “gay marriage” with “same-gender marriage”.

  37. The reason for this BBC bias in the reporting of equal marriage is obvious-


    NOW-it makes sense. YES?

    1. or perhaps they are all short-sighted anglican toffs focussing on their next line of cocaine instead of investigating a sex pest DJ – or reptilian overlords from cygnus b here to take over the world. allegedly.

      this is boring.

    2. Well they might be Gay too! Your knee jerk reaction is embarrassing.

  38. Why not rename it the BBCatholics and be done with it? Another propaganda article for another Arch-Bigot today

  39. This issue deserves a larger audience than just a (with respect) gay targeted news website. You wonder if the Guardian would be interested if alerted. There’s certainly a very, very strong case to say the reporting of the gay marriage issue has been terrifically one-sided.

  40. Paul Brownsey 29 Dec 2012, 8:24pm

    It is one thing to lead with the Nichols story: as an ex-journalist, I can see why one might want to lead with a controversy.

    And, at least early in the day, it might have been excusable to lead the story without a view on the other side.

    But what struck me as particularly unforgivable was the newsreader saying that Nichols had urged people to write to their MPs in protest. That isn’t news. That is acting as Nichols’ messenger-boy.

  41. Thankyou David Mason, I thought it was just me…
    I tend to spend Xmas with my reactionary parents out of some misguided sense of duty and the moment I heard this headline on the Today programme I thought
    “Just great, thanks a bunch Vincent Nichols and the BBC. That’s another f**king Xmas ruined”.
    Sure enough a lengthy ‘debate’ ensued on “why don’t those homosexuals just shut up about gay marriage” “Marriage is between a man and a woman” “I suppose Civil partnerships are OK”, “They live together, isn’t that enough?” “Archbishop Nichols says what we’re all thinking”.
    I’ve long since learned that debating these issues with my septogenarian Telegraph reading, UKIP supporting parents is as pointless as squeezing toothpaste back in the tube as they consider themselves right regardless so I bit my tongue, went to the bathroom and screamed.
    For 2 days this dominated the BBC headlines.
    IF catholics want to know what’s really destroying families, they should look in the f**king mirror

  42. The BBC has long appalled me for their disagracefully homophobic reporting, especially considering the millions of gay people in this country who are forced by law to fund it. In particular:

    – The now infamous ‘should gay people be executed’ debate, which was never properly explained and apologised for (apart from the typical beeb apology which basically goes ‘sorry you were offended, but you’re wrong, so piss off’)
    – The disgraeful lack of national reporting on Michael Causer, the gay teenager who was brutally murdered. The only adolescent murder of the year which wasn’t reported nationally.
    – The reporting of Elton John’s son, which was horrendously biased, and involved interviewing violent wife beater Stephen Green (leader of hate group Christian Voice) and behaving as if his views were balanced and worthy rather than basically fascist.I have complained numerous times to them about this and not received a reply for most of them.It is clear that they are a biggotted organisation.

    1. So people who believe a child is entitled to his own mother and a father are fascist?i believe they are standing up for human rights for the said child; I wonder, which would you have preferred not to have – your mother or your father? Who are the true fascists here who want to deny children?

      1. so your going to start taking children away from single parent families then Bee or outlaw divorce for everyone who has children afterall thats a human rights abuse in your opinion.

        A child only needs a loving and supportive parent, its great if they can have 2 but its not essential and neither is their gender essential.

  43. I complained about the biased reporting over Christmas and got the following (fairly inadequate) reply:

    “Many thanks for your email.

    We have now added some additional comments to the story.

    Initially it was difficult to source the response we needed from the other side of the debate – unfortunately this is often the case during holiday periods. We felt that the comments made by the Archbishop were so significant they were worth reporting in the first instance but it was always our intention to add in other comments as soon as these could be sourced and we have now done this.

    Best wishes and many thanks for your feedback which is very valuable to us.

    Laura Ellis, Head of New Media, BBC English Regions”

  44. Slightly late to this debate but have just written to the BBC to complain over their consistently biased reporting on the issue of equal marriage. Its always the same story; opponents & bigots given airtime & column inches without an opposing view. On the rare occasions they report on those in favour its always balanced by the opposing view. Enough is enough. We pay our license fee like everybody else yet are not being represented fairly.

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