MPs’ attack BBC’s “casual homophobia”

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MPs are calling on the BBC to make its staff more aware of “casual homophobia” after Radio1 DJ Chris Moyles called a mobile phone ring tone “gay” on his breakfast show.

The demand is made in a House of Commons motion seeking a debate on the issue, led by Liberal Democrat MP and spokesperson for Women and Equality Lorely Burt, and currently supported by four others from the Lib Dems, Conservatives and Labour.

The proposal expresses “concern that the word `gay’ has been used by Radio One presenter Chris Moyles to refer to something `lame or rubbish’ on air; notes in particular that Chris Moyles’ show is heard by up to 6.5 million listeners, many of them young adults and children; recognises that the use of such language in such a context may encourage or legitimise negative attitudes towards homosexuals.

It cites research from gay charity Stonewall which “found that 51% of gay men and 30 per cent. of lesbians reported being bullied physically and 82%. of respondents stated that they had been subject to name-calling and other forms of humiliation at school.”

The proposal concludes “that while freedom of speech is always of immense importance, that wherever possible the best way for that freedom to be exercised is in a responsible, sensitive manner and in full knowledge of the possible repercussions; and calls for the BBC to ensure that all its staff are aware of the possible negative consequences that apparent casual homophobia may have.

Ms Burt told “It’s important because whether he is adopting young people’s terminology or not, it’s an insult to gay people, they have enough problems already.

“It’s extremely unhelpful, as a broadcaster he should be more responsible.

The early day motion has also been signed by Liberal Democrat’s Norman Baker and Stephen Williams, Labour’s Greg Pope and Tory MP Peter Bottomley.

The BBC Board of Governor’s considered the implications of Moyle’s comments earlier this month, it concluded, “The Committee was of the view that the vast majority of those listening to the programme would not have taken offence at the use of this word in this context and the use of the word would therefore have been in line with audience expectations for that particular programme.

“It did, however, feel that it would be advisable to think more carefully about using the word ‘gay’ in its derogatory sense in the future, given the multiple meanings of the word in modern usage and the potential to cause unintended offence. Nevertheless, given the programme’s audience, the Committee considered the broadcast to be within the relevant editorial guidelines.”