Campaigners call for investigation after 'homophobic slurs' broadcast on BBC Arabic programme

Campaigners call for investigation after 'homophobic slurs' broadcast on BBC Arabic programme
BBC Arabic viewers are calling on the broadcaster to launch an investigation after comments using gay slurs were shown during a broadcast.
2 min read
08 July, 2021
The BBC released a statement apologising to viewers [Getty]

A BBC Arabic programme has drawn criticism and calls for an investigation after it aired homophobic comments during a broadcast.

Homophobic comments were aired during its BBC Trending programme, which is produced in London and reaches some 42 million people across the Arab world, as well as in the UK.

The show shares viewers’ online comments, sourced from social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook, with trending news stories.

Campaigners noticed that several of its segments contained anti-LGBTQ+ statements which were read out by the programme's presenter.

One segment in January 2020 talked about the arrest of "two homosexuals" in Mauritania after a video of a birthday party, and another story covered objections in Bahrain over the raising of the rainbow flag at the US Embassy for Pride month.

One comment suggested coronavirus is a result of homosexuality, while another said gay men should be jailed for life.

Campaigners say the material breaches broadcasting guidelines.

LGBTQ+ campaigner Peter Tatchell called the remarks "hate speech".

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Tatchell, Director of the Peter Tatchell Foundation, said:

"At taxpayer's expense, BBC Arabic has given a platform to homophobic hate speech. Its presenters publicised sickening denunciations of LGBT+ people, without any dissent or criticism."

The BBC later released a statement apologising to viewers, admitting "these broadcasts did not meet our editorial standards".

Tatchell slammed BBC's response as "not good enough".

"You would expect the BBC to apologise live on the Arabic service where the homophobic hate speech was broadcast, Tatchell said. "But as far as I am aware it has not done so."