More than 2,700 people have written to BBC Director General Lord Hall, calling on presenters to be able to wear red ribbons on-screen for World AIDS Day.

The National AIDS Trust (NAT) launched the open letter campaign last week over the corporation’s decision to reprimand Graham Norton for wearing a ribbon on his Friday night chat show.

For the past 10 days the BBC has refused to accept that the ribbon is an internationally recognised symbol which belongs to no singular charity or organisation.

There has been cross-party criticism of the BBC’s stance.

On Thursday, Liberal Democrat peer Baroness Barker became the latest politician to criticise the BBC’s apparent double standards in reprimanding Norton – whilst allowing other presenters to promote singular charitable causes.

Last Friday (13 November), the BBC formally declined to review its policy on the issue of presenters wearing red ribbons for World AIDS Day (WAD).

PinkNews asked the BBC if it was labelling Norton’s red ribbon as a “charitable symbol” because it was sold by the National AIDS Trust – the corporation never issued a response to the question.

The BBC refused to answer various questions put forward by PinkNews on why it makes exceptions to allow red noses for Red Nose Day, exceptions for Children in Need, Sports Relief, ‘Movember’ and Save the Children’s ‘National Christmas Jumper Day’, despite assertions that only poppies are allowed.

Along with Labour MP and former culture secretary Ben Bradshaw, Labour MP Pamela Nash – who chairs the All Party Parliamentary Group on HIV and AIDS – the National AIDS Trust (NAT) has also now written to BBC Director General Lord Hall, asking him to reverse the ban on presenters wearing red ribbons for WAD.

“We hope that the BBC’s New Year’s resolution for 2014 will be to do the right thing and reverse this illogical and unnecessary ban”, said NAT Policy Director Yusef Azad to PinkNews.co.uk on Friday.

Here is Mr Azad’s letter in full to Lord Hall:-

BBC ban on the wearing of red ribbons to mark World AIDS Day

I am writing to ask the BBC to reverse the current ban on presenters wearing the red ribbon on World AIDS Day.

As I am sure you are aware over recent weeks there has been significant support for a reversal of the ban from across the political spectrum, the media and charity sectors. NAT’s grassroots campaign to write to the BBC about the issue has also already had participation from over 2,700 people.

Previous BBC correspondence has stated that the wearing of symbols for individual charities would have impartiality implications for the BBC, although the poppy is exempt from these rules.

The red ribbon is a global symbol of HIV awareness. It is a simple and accessible way for anyone to remember those who have been affected by HIV and AIDS and make a statement against HIV stigma. It is not synonymous with any one particular charity and is used by numerous organisations all over the world. No one owns the red ribbon. It is the original ‘awareness ribbon’ and is powerful precisely because it is universal.

The BBC is a hugely respected institution which has the power to influence opinion and behaviour of the British public. As a public body, the BBC must have due regard, for example, to the need to eliminate discrimination and advance equality of opportunity, under the Public Sector Equality Duty. The wearing of the red ribbon contributes to these aims. It also helps raise badly needed HIV awareness and shows support for all the many BBC viewers and listeners who are themselves HIV positive.

I hope you and the BBC have had a chance to reflect on the current policy and will reverse this unfair ban. We would request a meeting with you to discuss this matter in more detail.

Yours sincerely

Yusef Azad
Director of Policy and Campaigns
NAT (National AIDS Trust)

You can write to Lord Hall regarding the ban by clicking here.