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The BBC has pulled out a scheme run by leading British LGBTQ+ charity Stone over issues surrounding 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 on the heels of fellow Brit network Channel 4 and U.K. media regulator Ofcom, who withdrew from the scheme over last couple of months, 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 a statement that its involvement in Diversity Champions had “led some 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.”
In a statement, 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 organised attacks on workplace inclusion that extend far beyond” the scheme. “It is shocking that organisations are being pressured into rolling back support for LGBTQ+ employees,” it added.
Industry trade union Bectu said it 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 significant pressure to withdraw from Stonewall’s scheme, not least by a 10-part BBC podcast hosted by Stephen Nolan in which it was claimed that the charity’s influence at the broadcaster was preventing some BBC staff from airing gender-critical views.
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