Now BBC ‘ditches’ Stonewall: Broadcaster is expected to become latest organisation to walk away from controversial LGBT charity’s Diversity Champions programme – after slew of public and private firms quit scheme
- Stonewall has been at centre of controversy since remarks from its chief exec
- Nancy Kelley claimed ‘gender critical’ beliefs – were like anti-Semitism
- When BBC does leave programme it follows Ofcom and Equality Commission
- BBC refused to confirm but said id did not ‘subscribe to Stonewall campaigning’
The BBC is believed to be about to ditch controversial LGBT charity Stonewall’s Diversity Champion’s programme within days.
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.
And Matthew Parris, the journalist and former MP who co-founded it in 1989, accused it this year of becoming ‘tangled up in the trans issue’ and ‘cornered into an extremist stance’.
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’.
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
‘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.’
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.
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
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.
A BBC spokesperson said: ‘The BBC acts independently in all our aspects of our operations, from HR policy to editorial guidelines and content.
‘We aim to be industry leading on workforce inclusion and take advice from a range of external organisations, however we make the final decision on any BBC policies or practices ourselves.
‘We do not take legal advice from Stonewall and we do not subscribe to Stonewall’s campaigning. The charity simply provides advice that we are able to consider.
‘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.’
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.’