Thursday, July 09, 2009

A broadcaster which claims to celebrate diversity might be expected to report the massive LGBT Pride event which took place in London at the weekend. But being the BBC the celebrations passed by without mention on its two national news programmes on Saturday night. Pride did get a mention as the fourth item on the BBC's London regional news programme at 6.20pm, but as we've come to expect Newsround completely ignored the diversity celebration.

In October last year the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child said it was concerned that children belonging to minority groups continue to experience discrimination and social stigmatization. The Committee noted the general climate of intolerance which appears to exist in the UK, including in the media, which may be the underlying cause of further infringements of kids' rights.

In that light, the UN Committee recommended (pdf file) that urgent measures were needed to address the intolerance. The Committee suggested awareness-raising and other preventive activities against discrimination and, if necessary, taking affirmative actions for the benefit of vulnerable groups of children.

Sunday's Newsround, in keeping with the UN Committee's recommendations, included a press pack report by Miriam, a Roma girl, who felt that if people understood her culture better it would help reduce the bullying problem (see blog 5 July 2009).

Newsround has unfortunately done nothing to tackle the problem of homophobic bullying - one of the few forms of bullying not even mentioned by the programme, and yet one of the most common forms of bullying.

An email from a young man in Ireland to the Irish minister of justice shows just how much distress can be caused by homophobic bullying. Declan's email is available on his blog and is quoted below:-

Dear Mr. Ahern,

I am aware at this stage that many people have emailed you about their problems with your recent plans for the forthcoming Civil Partnership Bill, you will have no doubt learned by now that lesbian and gay community are not happy with it. GLEN have said that we are happy to be getting this but we really aren't Minister! I don't know if you have children, but if you do could you imagine someone telling you that they aren't equal to their peers simply because they are gay!

I come from Abbeyfeale, a small town in West Limerick, growing up there was a complete nightmare for me. I was bullied for seven years and I don't mean school yard teasing and name calling, I was targeted because I was different, I was spat on, beaten up, threatened and it all started when I was 8yrs old. At the age of 16, crippled with depression I finally broke down in front of my family and I came out to them and I didn't expect the reaction I got - they have never treated me any differently than my other 5 brothers but I knew I could not stay in the town I grew up after I had decided to be open about my sexuality. I was being harassed in my workplace by grown-ups, I had stuff thrown at me from cars and again I was driven to the point of break.

These people treated me like I was the scum of the earth, all because I was gay! I could never fathom that, does it make sense when you think about it? Do you know how many times in my life I have been called a faggot? A queer? If it isn't ok to discriminate on the grounds of gender or race or religion, why is it ok for people to try and make my life hell on a regular basis! I went to college to better myself, I vote, I was paying my taxes up until I lost my job like thousands of other people - but simply because I am gay this seems to set me apart from 'normal' society!

Minister, your department stands for Justice! Why are you not standing up for the gay community? This Bill is a half-measure and as much good as you think you are doing let me tell you that you and your party are doing more harm to the gay community! By publishing this Bill you have said that we are not equal, that we are something below normal society! It must take a lot of hard work and a lot of intelligence to become to the Minister for Justice, could you please use some of that energy you have to try and fix this problem, please? What you are doing is not a good thing! Did you see 12,000 people march through Dublin City, on Saturday? 12,000 voices are telling you that this Bill does not go far enough and you need to listen.

If all you do is read this e-mail then you have managed to listen to just one voice but so many more are calling out to you. Minister I am tired of running away from bullies, I am tired of being treated like I am a second class citizen in a country that I love so much. So I have decided that I am not going to be bullied this time, I am going to stand up and I am going to fight back because if my parents have ever taught me anything it is that if you have something you believe in and deep in your heart you know is right then you have to fight for it. If it takes climbing onto the walls of the Dáil another 100times, marching down the streets of Dublin, Limerick, Cork and Galway, writing letters and e-mails, signing petitions and spreading the word about this inequality then you can be sure I will be doing my part.

I do not know if you will reply to this e-mail but please don't just disregard what I have said,

Declan Doody

Later Declan's mother, Helen Doody, also wrote to the Irish justice minister, and her email is widely available on the internet including at this link on Pink News.

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