The BBC’s flagship News at Six on BBC One featured a right-wing fundamentalist Christian who had previously supported the execution of gay people to comment on the birth of a surrogate son to Sir Elton John and his civil partner David Furnish. Incredibly, the BBC did not seem to realise that the same preacher had faced bankruptcy after losing an attempted private prosecution for blasphemy against the director general of the BBC after the character of Jesus described himself as “a little bit gay” in ‘Jerry Springer: The Opera’.
On the 28th December, Sir Elton and his partner, the film-maker David Furnish announced the birth of their son, Zachary Jackson Levon Furnish-John, to an unnamed surrogate mother.
The same night, the BBC broadcast a report by Lizo Mzimba on the birth of the child. With the introduction “not everyone is pleased to see such a high profile same sex couple start to raise a surrogate child”, Mr Mzimba proceeded to interview Stephen Green, of right-wing group Christian Voice, without any warning that he is someone who has in the past supported the death penalty for gay men.
In an interview that was visibly edited together, Mr Green told the BBC: “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.”
In 2009, Mr Green supported a proposed death penalty for gay men in Uganda saying: “The contrast between our politicians and those of Uganda could not be more stark. A Parliamentarian in Uganda is trying to protect his nation’s children. The House of Commons of the United Kingdom is trying to corrupt ours. Which country is the more civilised, I wonder, in the eyes of Almighty God?”
Earlier this year, Mr Green criticised Gareth Thomas, the former Welsh rugby captain for becoming patron of LGBT History Month, saying: “Gareth Thomas is urging such children to identify themselves as homosexual, and to inhibit their normal development into heterosexuality. That is a wicked thing to do to impressionable young people. The Lord Jesus Christ spoke about millstones being tied around the necks of those who lead children astray.”
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Incredibly, Mr Green’s own private blasphemy case against the BBC seems to have gone unnoticed by the BBC News at Six. In 2007, he attempted to bring a private prosecution against the director general of the BBC for the broadcast of ‘Jerry Springer: The Opera’. Mr Green said that the character of Jesus telling the chat-show host Jerry Springer in the satire that he is a “a little bit gay” was blasphemous. In 2008, Mr Green compared Ian Watkins, the openly gay former member of the pop group Steps to the mass murderer Jeffrey Dahmer.
Repeated calls to the BBC by PinkNews.co.uk were unable to reach anyone who was authorised to speak to a member of the press.
The decision to include an interview with Stephen Green, someone who has previously supported the execution of gays in a story relating to a high-profile gay couple celebrating the birth of a surrogate child shows incredible insensitivity by the BBC. His inclusion on a flagship bulletin is all the more shocking given that the same man unsuccessfully attempted to bring a private prosecution against the director general of the BBC on an a blasphemy issue that directly related to homosexuality.
The interview broadcast with Mr Green was visibly edited and appears to have been used to deliver a sense of controversy over the birth of a surrogate son to a same sex couple that may not have been even considered newsworthy had the celebrity couple been heterosexual.
Given that little more than a year ago, the BBC Trust ruled that the BBC “reinforced homophobic stereotypes”, the broadcast yesterday is all the more shocking.
The BBC needs to seriously reconsider not just who it interviews for stories relating to homosexuality but also reconsider its whole approach to how it covers the lives of millions of LGBT people, who themselves have no choice but to pay the television licence fee.
Update 19:26 29/12/10
The BBC has still not returned repeated calls from PinkNews.co.uk in relation to this story. We have been trying to contact them for a response for 18 hours
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A number of stories related to Mr Green are posted below.