Stonewall calls on BBC Trust to take homophobia seriously after lesbian slurs

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A leading gay rights group has called on the BBC to pay attention to the millions of lesbian, gay and bisexual people who pay for the corporation through the licence fee.

The state broadcaster has refused to apologise for broadcasting and repeating a programme in which a BBC DJ made insulting comments about lesbian women.

The BBC Three programme, entitled The Most Annoying People of 2008, is still available online via the BBC iPlayer service.

“Let the munters and mingers get each other. That’s cool because nobody wants them,” DJ Spoony, a 38-year-old employed as a presenter by BBC Radio 5 Live, said.

Mr Spoony was referring to actress Lindsay Lohan and DJ Samantha Ronson, whose lesbian relationship has received heavy tabloid coverage.

The BBC has so far refused to apologise for insulting lesbians.

“The contributors to the programme are expressing their own views and opinions, which are meant in a light-hearted way with no malicious intent,” a spokesperson for the corporation said.

Gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell and Tory MP Ann Widdecombe are among those who have criticised the broadcast, which also featured a middle-aged former pornography actor, Ron Jeremy.

Jeremy added further insult by implying lesbians can be “changed” into heterosexuals.

“Men are wishing they could be with her and change her mind, thinking ‘Yeah, she is a lesbian now because she never met me’,” he said.

Gay equality organisation Stonewall has been asking the BBC to take the issue of homophobia seriously for several years.

“This sort of language is completely inappropriate,” Ben Summerskill, Stonewall’s chief executive, told

“We are concerned that the BBC Trust has not taken its responsiblites seriously enough in terms of monitoring what maverick radio and TV presenters do.

“We are absolutely clear they should issue an apology and reassure licence payers, particularly lesbian and gay licence payers, who contribute £200m a year, that there will not be a recurrence.”

The BBC Trust took over responsibility for “setting the overall strategic direction of the BBC, including its priorities, and in exercising a general oversight of the work of the Executive Board,” in 2007.

The corporation came under intense pressure over taste and decency issues late last year.

It broadcast a pre-recorded show on BBC Radio 2 where Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand left messages on the voice mail of the Fawlty Towers actor Andrew Sachs, suggesting that Brand had slept with his granddaughter.

The incident resulted in the resignation of the Controller of BBC Radio 2 and Russell Brand together with a 12 week suspension of Ross.

“You would think that following the debacle with Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand, they would have gone out of their way to ensure that anything going out was within the limits of decency,” said Ann Widdecombe, Tory MP for Maidstone and the Weald.

“Indecency is just ingrained in the BBC. They are institutionally indecent. They don’t realise that what they think is funny is not what other people think is funny.”