BBC News is facing backlash from the LGBT+ community after it uncritically quoted the LGB Alliance in an article about conversion therapy.
The BBC quoted the anti-trans pressure group in an article about a letter from the Evangelical Alliance which expressed concern about government plans to ban conversion therapy, saying legislation could stop Christians from “seeking and receiving support to live chaste lives”.
The article noted that eight major political parties have called on the UK government to outlaw conversion therapy, but went on to quote a letter written by the LGB Alliance, which it said was a group “which described itself as promoting the rights of lesbians, bisexuals and gay men”. It made no mention of the group’s reputation within the LGBT+ community as an anti-trans pressure group.
In its letter, the LGB Alliance reportedly suggested that “the current push to ban conversion therapy… is being used as political cover to promote an affirmation-only approach to gender identity”.
The BBC also included words from equalities minister Kemi Badenoch, but failed to quote any LGBT+ groups.
The article marks the second time in the space of a week that the BBC has platformed the LGB Alliance, which was set up to campaign against trans rights.
Olly Alexander brands the LGB Alliance ‘totally unhinged’
It’s a Sin star Olly Alexander shared a screenshot of the article on Twitter and branded the LGB Alliance quote as “totally unhinged”.
“actually conversion therapy is good – trans people however” ummmmmmmmmm wtaf
— olly alexander ✨ (@alexander_olly) March 17, 2021
The BBC also faced strident criticism from actor David Paisley, who said the LGB Alliance is a “hate group”.
It's really worth noting the language used here.
"which describes itself as"@BBCNews know full well LGB Alliance aren't a legitimate LGBT+ group, so they allow plausible deniability and then use that to promote the idea some "LGB" groups don't support a conversion therapy ban. https://t.co/8s4yFcmqlJ pic.twitter.com/t07WgV0xIx
— David Paisley (@DavidPaisley) March 17, 2021
Many other LGBT+ activists lambasted BBC News for including the group’s quote in its article.
In a news item about the long-delayed move to #BanConversionTherapy @BBCNews quotes the Evangelical Alliance and the anti-trans LGB Alliance (both warning against a ban) but no-one from, say, Stonewall or any other LGBT+ group.
Yes, we should worry.https://t.co/4UKtxW1R85
— Matthew Hodson (@Matthew_Hodson) March 17, 2021
the framing of this article is dangerous and wrong. choosing a quote from this damaging anti-trans group and suggesting that 'religious freedoms' could be restricted by *literally saving LGBTQ+ lives* is disgusting. ban conversion therapy now. https://t.co/KxYHrI9HF2
— michael chakraverty (@mschakraverty) March 17, 2021
It's a shame that the BBC's coverage of the Evangelical Alliance's letter opposing a ban of LGBT+ conversion therapy only features comments from the EA, the LGB Alliance and Kemi Badenoch
— Jeffrey Ingold (@Jefflez) March 17, 2021
the bbc will promote the lgb alliance but not interview a trans person in an article about trans people because it apparently wasn’t necessary. rightttttt https://t.co/LbRS5iGMNb
— james (@itsjameso_) March 17, 2021
The controversy comes just days after BBC Radio Ulster came under fire for hosting two straight cis men and an LGB Alliance representative on a debate about conversion therapy.
In the debate, Bev Jackson of the LGB Alliance said a therapist should “ask questions” of a trans teenager to find how “why” they think they are trans. She insisted that this would not count as conversion therapy.
In September 2020, it was reported that the BBC has an editorial policy that any comments in support of trans equality must be “balanced” with views of a cisgender woman or an anti-trans pressure group.
In December 2020, Ofcom chief executive Melanie Dawes said it is often “extremely inappropriate” for broadcasters to balance pro-trans sentiments with comments from anti-trans pressure groups.
Despite this, anti-trans pressure groups and individuals are often cited as reliable sources in media discussions about trans rights.
To date, a petition calling for the UK’s media to “stop uncritically platforming the LGB Alliance” has been signed more than 26,000 times.
PinkNews has contacted the BBC and the LGB Alliance for comment.