BBC climbdown over NI homosexual march

The BBC will “not be involved corporately” in Saturday’s Belfast pro-LGBT parade admitting it could be seen as taking sides on same-sex marriage.

Last week, all BBC staff in Northern Ireland were told the regional branch of the corporation would – for the first time – take part in Belfast Pride.

But today the Corporation said staff who were marching would only be doing so as individuals.

‘Impartial’

Currently in Northern Ireland, marriage is solely between one man and one woman.

However, following votes in Westminster, same-sex marriage is set to be imposed in the coming months.

Peter Johnston, Director of BBC Northern Ireland, said: “We know that there are legislative issues specific to Northern Ireland in relation to same-sex marriage.

it is in receipt of licence fee income from all sections of the community.

Ian Kennedy

“These raise important considerations for the BBC in the context of its Editorial Guidelines, including the requirement to maintain due impartiality within our output.

‘Contention’

“None of this means that members of the BBC Pride network cannot be involved in Pride festivities in Belfast, but it does require BBC Northern Ireland to avoid creating the impression that it has a position on matters of political contention or controversy.”

It later emerged the Corporation had paid £250 to allow its BBC Pride network members and colleagues to take part.

Before the climbdown, a former BBC chief challenged the decision.

Diverse opinions

Ian Kennedy, who led BBC Radio Ulster and NI Television, said he supported same-sex marriage but “the BBC must be seen to be impartial”.

He added that this was especially the case because “it is in receipt of licence fee income from all sections of the community”.

Callum Webster, The Christian Institute’s Northern Ireland Officer, welcomed the change of heart: “LGBT Pride parades are not politically neutral events.

“They have consistently provided a platform to call for the redefinition of marriage and the promotion of homosexuality in wider society”.

Police officers

In 2017, uniformed police officers marched in the Belfast event for the first time.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland claimed it was to show the inclusivity of the force.

Mr Webster said: “Taxpayers and local residents have a reasonable expectation that their police force should refrain from endorsing particular political views”.

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