Tatchell calls for clear policy after Pogues debacle

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

The reversal of a decision taken by BBC Radio 1 to bleep the word ‘faggot’ from the Pogues and Kirsty MacColl Christmas song Fairytale of New Yorkhas been attacked by a leading gay campaigner.

Peter Tatchell, who leads the Stop Murder Music campaign, which targets homophobic singers who advocate the killing of gay people, said that a consistent policy was needed.

BBC Radio 1 had previously decided to censor the song over concerns it may cause offence to gay people.

But in a statement yesterday afternoon station controller Andy Parfitt said the decision was “wrong” and would be reversed.

Mr Tatchell today attacked BBC Radio 1 for caving in to pressure from listeners.

The proposed censorship of the song created massive negative publicity, with 95% of people who took part in a BBC online poll disagreeing with the decision.

“They apparently believe that a song using the f-word as an insult is acceptable. Faced with this deluge of criticism, Radio 1 capitulated,” said Mr Tatchell.

“The BBC and other media are guilty of double standards when it comes to homophobic language, compared to racist language. It tolerates the former but never the latter.

“I want to see a consistent, uniform policy applied to all bigoted, hateful words. Either all of them should be okay to use or none of them should be acceptable.

“The BBC does not accept the use of the words n*gger, p*ki, y*d or sp*stic as insults.

“For the sake of consistency, either faggot should be unacceptable too, or these other bigoted words should also be permitted. It’s the BBC’s inconsistency that is so irritating.

“I challenge those who defend the use of the word faggot in these lyrics to state publicly that they would also defend the right of white singers to use the word n*gger as a term of abuse in a song.

“They won’t and that makes them cowardly homophobic hypocrites.”

Mr Tatchell called for a consistent policy covering all bigoted insults, so that anti-Semitic, racist, homophobic, anti-Muslim and sexist lyrics are all treated in the same way

He also said that the row is trivial compared to the grave human rights abuses around the world.

“It diverts attention away from really serious, hard-core homophobia, such as the Jamaican dancehall songs that call for the murder of gay people and from high street record stores and radio stations that promote this murder music,” he said.