The BBC has declined to take action – after an interviewee was allowed to link homosexuality and child grooming without being challenged.
Speaking on Radio 4’s Sunday programme, Dr Chris Sugden of evangelical lobbying group Anglican Mainstream claimed his “significant research” shows anti-gay laws around the world actually just protect children from child groomers.
He said: “There are a lot of myths and misunderstandings about this. I have done significant research on this in Africa, and talked to African Christian leaders and legal experts.
“The situation is this – what they are concerned about is the protection of children from grooming.
“It’s not homosexuality, it’s homosexual behaviour… they need to protect children from grooming. In India only last week, there was a bill [to decriminalise gay sex] brought before Parliament which failed to get through – because they want to protect children.”
He is referring to Section 377 of the Indian penal code – a newly reinstated Colonial-era law which bans gay sex. The bill makes no reference to child abuse.
Despite his shocking comments, the church minister was not corrected or challenged for suggesting that anti-gay laws protect people from paedophiles. He also repeatedly referred to homosexuality as a “lifestyle choice” without being challenged.
The BBC has since issued a partial apology over the issue, branding the incident “regrettable” – but the broadcaster declined to escalate the issue and insists that Dr Sugden was somehow making an entirely different point.
A response to a number of complaints says: “We have reviewed the programme and have discussed listener feedback personally with the senior editorial team responsible at Radio 4.
“‘Sunday’ is a live programme and, regrettably, this discussion ran out of time before it was possible to clarify some of the views expressed.
“As a result, some listeners may have gained the impression that Canon Dr Chris Sugden equated homosexual behaviour with child grooming.”
“We have spoken with Dr Sugden subsequently, and he has assured us that this is not the case and that he was actually conveying what he believes to be one African perspective on the churches’ and the states’ attitudes to homosexual behaviour, based on his conversations with senior religious leaders from different African countries.”
The BBC response does not clarify how Dr Sugden could be making any other point, given he explicitly referred to an Indian law which bans gay sex – and explicitly claimed it is actually to prevent child abuse.
The response continued: “We apologise for any offence caused by a lack of clarity on this point during the live broadcast.
“As was explained in the programme, ‘Sunday’ will be returning to the issue when the leaders of the Anglican Communion meet in January, and exploring it in more detail.”