Catholic Church demands apology from BBC over video challenging religious homophobia

The Catholic Church has demanded an apology from the BBC over a video that referenced the impact of religious homophobia from a “Bible basher.”

BBC Scotland’s The Social project released a powerful spoken word video earlier this month exploring what homophobia feels like in 2018.

The video, which has attracted millions of views on social media, is a first-person account of a man grappling the fear of casual homophobia from strangers while walking with his boyfriend.

The man encounters a string of intolerant people including “a Bible basher rehashing lies about Jesus, like how Poundland rip off mini cheddars and sell them on as cheese savouries.”

As the video intercuts footage from a Mass ceremony, he continues: “It seems to me like Jesus saved a lot of time when he died for all our crimes that he would have wasted teaching small minds that love is no sin.”

Addressing the anti-gay preacher he adds: “See him? He thinks it’s faith but under all that din it tastes like cardboard and it smells like hate.”

However, the video has led a senior Catholic bishop to accuse the BBC of religious discrimination.

Bishop John Keenan of Paisley has written to the Director of BBC Scotland to demand an apology for the video, which he claims “sanctions the idea that Catholics engender public hated of homosexuals.”

Keenan added: “In the current climate of growing hostility to Catholics I would appeal that the BBC guard against adding fuel to the fire. In that regard I would ask that the Corporation now reach out to Catholics to understand their concerns, that they are being portrayed in a prejudicial way.

“When it comes to important public debates about the wellbeing of the human person and the truth and meaning of human sexuality Catholics feel their views are becoming increasingly marginalised, almost criminalised’ by a narrative in BBC news, comment, arts and elsewhere that amounts to ‘LGBT views good, Catholic views bad,’ an assumption which you must know is simplistic and imposed, and which is not strengthened by longitudinal research.

He added: “At the same time the Catholic community is now worried that some elements in the Corporation have adopted an agenda that is overtaking the BBC’s unique position as a globally respected public service broadcaster in order to substitute it with something more akin to a mouthpiece for particular agendas on sexuality and gender, not uncommonly directed against Christians in general, and Catholics specifically.”

The Scottish Catholic Media Office also submitted a complaint, claiming the video violates BBC guidelines on “taste and decency.”

The BBC is sticking by the video, however.

It said: “The ‘Time for Love’ piece is a personal polemic about being gay in 2018 and the experiences outlined in the film are intended to reflect those of the filmmaker.

“As a young gay man, raised in the Catholic faith, it is seen though his eyes and told in his voice, and is intended to reflect the challenges and opinions he personally faced while growing up in Scotland.

“The BBC appreciates that some of our audiences will find it challenging in its approach to tackling some very difficult themes, but we do believe it important that we should provide platforms such as The Social to allow appropriate space for artistic freedom of speech.

“We do, however, regret that some church members found it to be offensive.”

The head of BBC Scotland Donalda MacKinnon has agreed to meet with Catholic leaders to discuss their concerns about the video.

The Catholic Church continues to teach that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered,” and its stance on LGBT issues remains controversial.

The Church has controversially taken an active role in battling against legal reforms for same-sex couples in Italy and Australia over the past few years.

In the US Catholic groups have also been linked to funding for anti-LGBT lobbyists, while the Vatican has recently cut ties with a human rights festival and International Women’s Day event over gay participants.