The BBC has today announced it has become the latest organisation to ditch controversial LGBT charity Stonewall’s Diversity Champion’s programme.
It comes in the wake of Ofcom, the Equality and Human Rights Commission and others quitting the scheme.
Diversity Champions is a programme where companies sign up and pay for advice from Stonewall on how to create an inclusive environment for LGBT workers.
But it has been recently mired in controversy after its Chief executive Nancy Kelley claimed ‘gender critical’ beliefs – the belief that a person’s biological sex cannot be changed – were like anti-Semitism.
A spokesperson for the BBC confirmed: ‘The BBC is fully committed to being an industry-leading employer on LGBTQ+ inclusion. We are proud of our lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans colleagues and we support them to have fulfilling careers at the BBC.
‘Along with many other UK employers, the BBC has participated in Stonewall’s Diversity Champions Programme to support our objective to create a fully inclusive workplace. However, over time our participation in the Programme has led some to question whether the BBC can be impartial when reporting on public policy debates where Stonewall is taking an active role.
‘After careful consideration, we believe it is time to step back from the Diversity Champions Programme and will also no longer participate in Stonewall’s Workplace Equality Index.
BBC refused to confirm but said id did not ‘subscribe to Stonewall campaigning’
Stonewall’s Nancy Kelley claimed ‘gender critical’ beliefs – were like anti-Semitism
Stonewall’s Diversity Champions is a programme where companies sign up and pay for advice from Stonewall on how to create an inclusive environment for LGBT workers
‘Being a part of the Diversity Champions Programme has never required the BBC to support the campaigns of Stonewall, nor its policy positions. As a broadcaster, we have our own values and editorial standards – these are clearly set out and published in our Editorial Guidelines. We are also governed by the Royal Charter and the Ofcom Broadcasting Code. Our journalists continue, as ever, to report a full range of perspectives on stories.
‘Although the BBC will not be renewing its participation in the Diversity Champions Programme, in the future we will continue to work with a range of external organisations, including Stonewall, on relevant projects to support our LGBTQ+ staff.’
Stonewall said it was ‘a shame’ that the BBC had left the scheme, adding in a hard-hitting statement: ‘Many of the arguments against trans people today are simply recycled homophobia from the 80s and 90s.
‘We all remember being told gay people were predators and lesbians were a threat in single-sex spaces.
‘That wasn’t true of lesbians, bi and gay people then, and it isn’t true of trans people now.’
Matthew Parris, the journalist and former MP who co-founded Stonewall in 1989, this year accused the group of becoming ‘tangled up in the trans issue’ and ‘cornered into an extremist stance’.
Last month a BBC source told VICE News: ‘BBC bosses feel that they can’t allow the organisation to be connected to Stonewall in any way, because the BBC needs to be ‘impartial on LGBT lives’.
‘So the current plan is to quietly withdraw from the scheme, by just not renewing their membership. I’m super scared about this sliding back on supporting LGBT employees.’
At least eight major organisations have left the Stonewall group’s controversial scheme
This image, which was presented to employees as part of an internal BBC course set up in conjunction with the lobby group, depicts sex as a spectrum and defines gender identity as ‘how you think about yourself’
BBC’s impending departure comes after others, who include Ofcom abandoned programme
People supporting the organization Stonewall during Pride in London back in July 2015
Ofcom is understood to have been concerned that its relationship with Stonewall through the scheme could jeopardise its own reputation.
A source said that Ofcom looked at whether its relationship with Stonewall posed ‘a conflict or risk of perceived bias’, adding: ‘Stepping back from the Diversity Champions programme, in light of this, is the right thing to do.’
The Equality and Human Rights Commission also decided not to renew its membership earlier this year saying it did not constitute best value for money.
Sources at Ofcom said it had now ‘laid the foundations’ to help it improve support for LGBT colleagues and was confident it could ‘move ahead positively’ outside the Stonewall scheme.
But it will remain in the charity’s Workplace Equality Index, a benchmark tool for employers.
Robbie de Santos, director of communications and campaigns at Stonewall,said: ‘Our work with the BBC focuses on helping to build an LGBTQ+ inclusive workplace for its employees, and in no way affects their impartiality.
‘Supporting LGBTQ+ people in the workplace should not be seen as a political or controversial act.’