BBC coverage of Elton's baby provokes claims of homophobia

Gay rights campaigners urge viewers to boycott licence fee in protest

The BBC is facing action by gay viewers and listeners, who have been asked to withhold the licence fee in protest at a succession of broadcasts that have been criticised as homophobic.

In an important development, the influential Pink News website has published an editorial calling for viewers to take co-ordinated action against the corporation as a way of making their voices heard on this issue.

"No other group of people is subjected to the same level of insult by the BBC as the LGBT community," it said, suggesting that viewers who only watched on-demand television could avoid paying the licence fee.

The call for action has been triggered by the BBC's decision to allow a fundamentalist Christian, Stephen Green, to be the sole commentator in a report in its News at Six bulletin on the surrogate birth of a son to the gay couple Sir Elton John and David Furnish. "This isn't just a designer baby for Sir Elton John, this is a designer accessory," said Green, who represents the group Christian Voice and is an outspoken critic of homosexual relationships. "Now it seems like money can buy him anything, and so he has entered into this peculiar arrangement. A baby needs a mother and it seems an act of pure selfishness to deprive a baby of a mother."

Pink News accuses the BBC of irresponsibly seeking extremist views: "Would they ask a member of the Ku Klux Klan to comment on the birth of a surrogate child to a mixed raced couple?" The controversy follows a succession of previous incidents, including Ofcom's criticism of Radio 1 presenter Chris Moyles for his comments on the gay singer Will Young, a BBC3 programme that was criticised as "offensive" by the BBC Trust for the way it discussed lesbians, and a debate about Uganda's policy on homosexuality on the BBC's website being headlined "Should homosexuals face execution?"

Of the coverage of Sir Elton's baby, which included an old clip of the pop star talking about parenthood, the website said: "Enough is enough. This isn't the most serious offence that the BBC has ever committed against [gay] people, but it's the one that in the view of PinkNews.co.uk tips the corporation over the edge."

It said that the BBC, as a publicly funded organisation, was under a moral obligation to cater to all sections of the population.

"Even if LGBT people chose to watch no BBC programmes at all, and stuck to the more tolerant ITV or Channel 4 instead, they are still forced to fund the BBC. This monopoly over an effective tax on television consumption means that the BBC has a greater duty than most accurately to reflect the nation."

The BBC defended its coverage. "The practice of surrogacy is a sensitive subject and remains controversial in some quarters. Our short news bulletin featured Elton John talking about wanting to have a child, and an opposing viewpoint. All sides of the debate on surrogacy have been widely reported in the news media, and our coverage has reflected this."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Social Media Account Writers

£12000 - £13000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This social media management pr...

Ashdown Group: Deputy Editor (Magazine Publishing) - Wimbledon - £23-26K

£23000 - £26000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Deputy Editor - Wimbledon...

Ashdown Group: Editor (Magazines/Publishing) - Wimbledon - £26-30K

£26000 - £30000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Editor (Magazines/Publish...

Ashdown Group: Print Designer - High Wycombe - Permanent £28K

£25000 - £28000 per annum + 24 days holiday, bonus, etc.: Ashdown Group: Print...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent