99 PinkNews.co.uk readers say they complained over BBC interview

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Ninety-nine PinkNews.co.uk readers said they complained directly to the BBC over an interview with a homophobic preacher who supports the death penalty for gays.

Last month, BBC News at Six used an interview with Stephen Green of Christian Voice to add “balance” to an item about Elton John having a baby by surrogate.

The corporation would not say whether it had approached any other groups for comment. Christian Voice is regarded as extremist by other Christian organisations and has just 500 members.

At the time, a BBC source told PinkNews.co.uk: “It is Christmas so a lot of people are away or not answering their telephones.”

While Ofcom received 95 complaints over the broadcast, the BBC refused to reveal how many people had complained directly to the corporation, citing “evidence of a lobby”.

We asked our readers to tell us whether they complained and 99 said they had.

A BBC spokesman would not say whether this reflected the number of complaints received.

When asked why the BBC had revealed the number of complaints received over the EastEnders cot death scenes – where there was evidence that parenting website Mumsnet had encouraged members to complain – he said that storyline had seen a “huge number of media complaints”.

Last week, a guest on BBC Newsnight used the word “poofter” to describe the Australian cricket team. No apology was offered for the comment made by Carmen Callil. Instead, presenter Kirsty Wark said: “Oh my God, Carmen. You may say that, I would never say that.”

When asked what would happen if a guest used a racist insult on a live programme, the BBC spokesman said he could not compare “hypothetical” situations and pointed PinkNews.co.uk to the BBC’s editorial guidelines.

These say: “If offensive comments are expressed during live interviews, the interviewer should normally intervene, challenge the comments where appropriate and/or distance the BBC from the comments. If this doesn’t happen we should make an on-air apology at the earliest opportunity.

“Potentially offensive comments include remarks that may be interpreted as, for example, racist, sexist, homophobic, prejudiced against a religious group, or reflecting an unflattering national stereotype.”

In an editorial after the Stephen Green interview, PinkNews.co.uk said: “If [the BBC’s] not suggesting that lesbians are ‘munters’, allowing its highest paid presenters to continually be reprimanded by Ofcom for homophobia or hosting debates asking if gay people should be executed, it’s soliciting views from abhorrent extremists on gay related issues.

“No other group of people are subjected to the same level of insult by the BBC as the LGBT community. Would the BBC continue to employ radio presenters who made anti-Semitic or racist jokes? Would they ask a member of the Ku Klux Klan to comment on the birth of a surrogate child to a mixed raced couple?

“Despite mountains of complaints, surveys and reports, nothing seems to change the long term strategy of the BBC. The corporation apologises for individual mistakes but there is no culture change. It seems that the broadcaster intends to just carry on insulting our community over and over again.”