National AIDS Trust: The BBC should not penalise Graham Norton for wearing an AIDS awareness ribbon

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The National AIDS Trust has criticised the BBC’s decision to discipline Graham Norton for wearing an HIV/AIDS awareness ribbon on his Friday night chat show.

The broadcaster and comedian ignored instructions not to wear the ribbon on his programme on 29 November to highlight this year’s World AIDS Day on 1 December.

Despite the fact that all of his guests on the Graham Norton Show – Jeremy Clarkson, Jo Brand, Colin Farrell and Sharon Osbourne – were allowed to wear the red ribbons – the Irish presenter was told not to.

On Tuesday it was revealed that Norton had been reprimanded by the corporation for breaking production guidelines. BBC entertainment controller Mark Linsey said: “World AIDS Day is an issue which Graham cares passionately about and he did wear a World AIDS Day insignia on his programme. 

“However, this is in breach of BBC guidelines. The production company has been contacted and reminded that he cannot do this and Graham has accepted he was wrong to do so. The BBC has been assured it will not occur again.”

The National AIDS Trust (NAT) has criticised the BBC’s decision and believes the corporation should review its rules.

NAT Chief Executive Deborah Jack said to “NAT has for some time raised concerns with the BBC on its ban of red ribbons around World AIDS Day. We feel in these times of low public awareness of HIV in the UK, if someone feels passionately enough to want to wear a ribbon that should be encouraged not penalised. We will use this heightened media debate as an opportunity to renew our efforts to convince the BBC that current rules which ban the wearing of red ribbons around World AIDS Day are illogical and unfair.”

Will Harris, head of media at Terrence Higgins Trust said to “Wearing a red ribbon is not just a token of remembrance. It is also a way of showing solidarity with the millions of people still living with HIV worldwide. We were pleased to see so many celebrities and politicians wearing their ribbons on World AIDS Day this year. It’s a small gesture, but it can help remind people that HIV is still a very real issue.”