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Mhairi Black defends Susan Calman in Strictly Come Dancing same-sex couples row

September 18, 2017
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PinkNews Exclusive
Out MP Mhairi Black has weighed in to the row over Susan Calman dancing with a man on Strictly Come Dancing.

The SNP politician, 23, labelled attacks on Calman as “unfair”, ahead of the first live show this Saturday.

Ms Black says LGBT activists should stop attacking the lesbian comedian and focus their criticisms on BBC bosses.

Mhairi Black

Speaking to PinkNews Mhairi Black MP said: “People need to give Susan Calman a break – the criticism she’s faced has been really unfair.

“She’s always been a champion for equality, she’s a brilliant comedian, a great role model for young LGBTI people, and she has every right to enjoy herself on Strictly whoever she dances with.

“I’m rooting for her,” the re-elected MP said, adding, “she has my full support and I think she’s going to do great.”

However she called on BBC bosses to introduce same-sex dance partners soon – saying people should blame TV producers, not Calman.

“Of course, it’s 2017 and it’s about time big TV programmes are fully inclusive of LGBTI people.

“That includes having same-sex dance partners on Strictly – but the onus is on the programme makers not individual contestants.

“It’s not a question of being PC or tokenistic – and it’s not just Strictly or the BBC – we have to ask ourselves why same-sex couples and LGBTI people still aren’t being properly included and represented on some of these programmes in the first place.

“Being inclusive should be the norm – TV should reflect and speak to the full diversity of society, and doing that helps open minds and change attitudes.”

The BBC says it has no plans to introduce same-sex partners on this year’s Strictly, but judge Craig Revel Horwood has said they should introduce the change next year.

The row comes after Calman defended her decision to dance with a man despite considering the prospect of dancing with a woman.

“I did think about dancing with a woman, but from the very first moment when I was asked about the show I said I wanted to dance with a man,” she said.

Calman faced some criticism for the comments but she hit back saying she was “offended” by the backlash.

She insisted that she had “worked tirelessly for LGBT equality” her whole life but “right now I would like to dance and bring entertainment to people by dancing on a Saturday night”.

She said that her decision to dance with a male partner was hers and it was powerful for her to be able to appear on the show in the first place as an openly lesbian woman.

(Photo by Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)

“I think politically, there’s nothing more powerful than having an openly gay woman on the biggest show on television, whose wife’s on the front row, doing what she wants to do.”

“For the gay community to criticise me and try to get me what they want to do is, I think, as difficult as suggesting the straight community are trying to.

“No one is holding me hostage in this room, making me wear a dress and dance with a man. I want to learn how to dance,” Calman added.

A spokesperson confirmed that the BBC One show would continue to follow a “traditional format” after fans and some contestants challenged the broadcaster’s decision.

“Strictly has chosen the traditional format of mixed-sex couples and at the moment we have no plans to introduce same-sex couples in the competition,” the BBC said.

Related topics: BBC, BBC One, lesbian, LGBT, Mhairi Black, SNP, Strictly, Strictly Come Dancing, Susan Calman, Television

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