Media Politics: BBC Quits Stonewall LGBTQ Diversity Program Over Impartiality Concerns

BBC Quits Stonewall LGBTQ Diversity Program Over Impartiality Concerns

The broadcaster pulled out of the Diversity Champions scheme after mounting pressures.

The BBC has pulled out a scheme run by lead British LGBTQ+ charity Stone over issues of impartiality.

Following an investigation by one of its own journalists, the U.K.’s national broadcaster on Wednesday said it would no longer be part of the Diversity Champions Program, aimed at embedding LGBTQ+ inclusion in the workplace and also attracting the LGBTQ+ talent.

The decision follows fellow Brit network Channel 4 and U.K. media regulator Ofcom, who withdrew from the scheme, as did several public bodies.

The BBC also pulled out of the Workplace Equality Index, which ranks institutions according to how open they are to LGBTQ+ staff.

The BBC said in its involvement in Diversity Champions “led to question whether the BBC can be impartial when reporting on public policy debates where Stonewall is taking an active role.”

It added: “As a broadcaster, we have our own values and editorial standards – these are clearly set out and published in our Editorial Guidelines. Although the BBC will not be renewing its participation in the Diversity Champions Program, in the future we will continue to work with a range of external organizations, including Stonewall, on relevant projects to support our LGBTQ+ staff.”

Stonewall said it was a “shame” that the BBC had not renewed its membership of Diversity Champions, but said the news came “in the wake of organized attacks on workplace inclusion that extend far beyond” the scheme. “It is shocking that organizations are being pressured into rolling back support for LGBTQ+ employees,” it added.

Industry trade union Bectu was “hugely disappointed” with the news, adding that it would be “incredibly damaging to the morale of the LGBT workforce and will negatively impact the BBC’s ability to attract talent in the future.”

The BBC had been under pressure to withdraw from Stonewall’s scheme, one by ten-part BBC podcast hosted by Stephen Nolan in which it was claimed that the charity’s influence at the broadcaster prevented BBC staff from airing gender-critical views.