Senior BBC managers are being influenced by ‘anti-trans propaganda’, LGBT+ staff say

The BBC Stonewall

The BBC’s decision to exit Stonewall’s workplace diversity scheme was “inevitable” because anti-trans staff members have the ear of senior management, according to a BBC employee.

There was outcry on Wednesday (10 November) when the BBC announced that it was quitting Stonewall’s Diversity Champions programme, a scheme that helps workplaces become more inclusive for LGBT+ staff.

Speaking to PinkNews, current staff member Peter – whose name has been changed to protect his identity – said the news did not come as a shock.

“Considering the recent output from the BBC, the Nolan podcast, the trans rape article, I think it’s very clear where the BBC has fallen on this. While it may say it’s impartial, I think for most people, we can see that isn’t the case.

“It’s just really sad and disappointing to be working in a major company that has unknowingly staked a claim on one side of this ‘debate’. In its attempt to be impartial on this matter, it has been very partial.”

The problem as far as Peter sees it lies with senior management, who – as far as he is aware – are broadly straight and cisgender.

The BBC is reporting on ‘anti-trans propaganda’ and ‘conspiracy theories’

“I think we know that there are some very high, very senior people at the BBC who are openly anti-trans who have the ear of senior, senior people,” Peter added.

“When we see things like the attacks on Stonewall and that trans article, what we’re seeing is the BBC reporting on what we know is anti-trans propaganda conspiracy theories that have been floating around for years.

“If you’re a heterosexual journalist, or a senior business person at the top of the BBC, you come to this stuff fresh, I’m sure you could present a compelling case about how awful Stonewall is. But for anyone that’s seen this evolve from conspiracy theories to a legitimised view that is supported by the BBC – it’s just really disappointing that people inside the BBC, senior journalists, are unable to do the research and to see what is happening here.”

Peter says senior management at the BBC is not interested in listening to LGBT+ staff on these issues. “As an LGBT+ member of staff, it’s not that I don’t feel safe working for the BBC, because there’s no threat I don’t believe to any BBC members of staff. But what it does change is knowing that you are working for a company that believes LGBT+ existence is up for debate.

“It’s a really hard time to be working for a company like the BBC.”

He says he was “really shocked” that the recent anti-trans article, which claimed lesbians are being pressured into having sex with trans women, was published.

“As most people know, it was in the works for a very long time. I think a lot of people inside the BBC knew it was in the pipeline because a lot of people worked on it, but I never thought it would see the light of day,” he says.

Despite issues with the BBC’s coverage of trans issues, Peter says the workplace doesn’t have an openly homophobic or transphobic culture. There are still processes in place designed to protect LGBT+ staff.

However, there is an imbalance when it comes to who feels comfortable speaking out about the ongoing situation.

“BBC journalists who support trans rights are unable to say that publicly, whereas BBC journalists who are gender critical, or who don’t support trans rights, are very, very outspoken on social media,” Peter says.

BBC exit is part of a wider attack on workplace inclusion

The BBC announced that it was pulling out of the Diversity Champions scheme in an email to staff on Wednesday (10 November). Tim Davie, director general of the BBC, admitted the news would not be “a welcome development” for some employees, but said the broadcaster will remain committed to being “an industry-leading employer on LGBTQ+ inclusion”.

Ultimately, he told staff that senior management had decided to bow out of the programme to “minimise the risk of perceived bias”.

Stonewall said the decision is the direct result of “organised attacks on workplace inclusion that extend far beyond” its scheme.

The news comes after a turbulent few weeks for the BBC. The broadcaster faced criticism over a podcast series from BBC Radio Ulster host Stephen Nolan which investigated the links between Stonewall and the BBC.

The BBC has faced protests and backlash in recent weeks after it published an article titled “We’re being pressured into sex by some trans women”. The article relied on a survey of just 80 people, which was conducted by a member of anti-trans pressure group Get The L Out.

More than 20,000 people have signed an open letter criticising the article for suggesting that “transgender women generally pose a risk to cisgender lesbians in great enough numbers that it is newsworthy”.

The controversy intensified when it emerged that Lily Cade, a porn star who was interviewed in the BBC’s article, had called for the mass “execution” and “lynching” of trans women.

The BBC responded by removing Cade’s quotes from its article – however, the rest of the piece remains intact despite public outcry.