Sunday, April 04, 2010

In view of Ben Bradshaw's remarks this morning about hypocrisy on the part of Conservatives, Newsround Blog readers may be interested in Mr Bradshaw's own behaviour. In May last year, Bradshaw was making allegations of homophobia, so I hope he won't accuse me too.

Bradshaw's department, the DCMS, has seemingly been complicit in making it easier for the BBC to discriminate. In an almost year-long Freedom of Information battle with the DCMS I'm attempting to find out what behind-the-scenes discussions have taken place between the DCMS and the broadcasters. Unfortunately the DCMS have delayed beyond accepted time limits at virtually every stage of my enquiries.

Last night, I emailed Mr Bradshaw that I was perplexed as to why the new Equality Bill will allow broadcasters to discriminate. I wrote: "The reason for my concern is that, in July last year, you told Pink News readers that you would look into BBC homophobia."

Despite evidence of BBC anti-gay discrimination, of which Bradshaw is aware, it has been agreed by politicians that the ban on discrimination, victimisation and harassment does not apply in relation to broadcasting output. The matter was briefly discussed in the House of Lords.

So the BBC will be able to use its sacred cow of 'editorial independence' / 'editorial judgement' as a shield. In fact the BBC will, as a result of the new Equality Act, be able to discriminate in areas which it is not allowed to at present. What makes things even worse is that the BBC could then, if it so wished, use the exemptions it enjoys under the Freedom of Information Act to avoid any public scrutiny of 'editorial' decisions.

Back to politicians, and following dismay about David Cameron's interview for Gay Times, Cameron told The Economist "When it’s actually come to issues of homosexual equality in the European Parliament, they’ve [Tory MEPs] actually always voted in favour of that." Strange that - you'd think his MEPs would then also support women's equality, but as I showed in my last blog that isn't the case.

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