In an ideal world, the sexuality of a celebrity or sports star would be none of anyone's business. But we aren't living in an ideal world, as the BBC made all too obvious when they asked for opinions on whether 'homosexuals' should be executed.
Many, many people were very annoyed. Philip Hensher wrote in The Independent: The one thing that you would not expect is that the BBC should choose to engage with so gross an assault on human rights by mounting a debate on exactly the moral grounds of these horrible murderers. A BBC World Service programme on the subject was accompanied by a debate on a message board with the headline "Should homosexuals face execution?" Ooh, I don't know. There's something to be said on every side, isn't there? In the style of Mrs Merton, Caroline Aherne's immortal character: Let's Have A Heated Debate.
The BBC's Editorial Guidelines state: "people should only be described in terms of their disability, age, sexual orientation and so on when clearly editorially justified." A top sportsman, who, in order to help others, wishes to tell the public he is gay would seem to meet the requirement. And indeed BBC News did report, on Saturday, that Gareth Thomas had come out as gay. He told the Daily Mail that he doesn't want desperate young people confused over their sexuality to suffer in silence.
What about the thousands of young people who watch Newsround and Sportsround? Wouldn't that story have been a great way to counter homophobia and send them a positive message?
Unfortunately the story wasn't mentioned at all on Newsround, and there's nothing about it on the website either. The last time Newsround mentioned a man was gay was when Stephen Gately died. Maybe, as far as BBC Children's TV is concerned, it's only OK to be gay if you're dead.