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Damage control? BBC director says staff are NOT banned from LGBT Pride after raging backlash & threat of lawsuit over new rules

BBC director-general Tim Davie has said that journalists are not banned from attending LGBT pride events under new ‘impartiality’ rules, after confusion over new guidelines provoked outrage and sparked a potential lawsuit.

“There is no ban on attending Pride parades,” Davie wrote, in an internal letter to staff aimed at playing down the controversy. The letter was arguably as vague as the guidelines that caused the initial outrage, with Davie writing that “care needs to be given to the guidance” and staff still “need to ensure that they are not seen to be taking a stand on politicised or contested issues.”

The controversy was sparked on Thursday after Davie imposed strict social-media guidelines on BBC staff with the aim of maintaining a veneer of political impartiality. As part of the new rules, reporters are forbidden from taking part in “public demonstrations or gatherings about controversial issues.” 

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The rules’ clarification reads, “…Judgement is required as to what constitutes a controversial march or demonstration” but adds that “most marches are contentious to some degree or other.”

While not mentioning pride events specifically, the rules instantly raised questions among LGBT staff about those marches – and BBC journalists confirmed to various UK outlets, including the Guardian and i-News, that the ban could indeed extend to LGBT pride marches.

The rules concern only BBC’s news and current-affairs staff, something which Davie confirmed in his Friday letter.

A report by i-News shed more light on the curiously vague language of the impartiality rules. The outlet reported that BBC sources were mostly concerned about the transgender elemement of pride marches. Staff were reportedly told that it would be a-okay for journalists to take part in pride if it was seen as a “celebration” and as long as they don’t involve “the trans issue” – which most LGBT marches do.

Trans people and their allies were up in arms online over the distinction made by the BBC, saying that the broadcaster was “not being impartial,” but was instead “taking a stance against a marginalized group.”

Other users were similarly outraged by the perceived invasiveness of the BBC guidelines. Commenters speculated that they might be “unlawful” and might have been intentionally vague.

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The Good Law Project non-profit seemed to agree, announcing potential future legal action against the network, with its director calling the rules “unlawful and discriminatory.” The organization made an appeal to LGBT staff who might like to join the action, perhaps partially instigating Davie’s swift efforts at damage control.

Also on rt.com Journalists protest as BBC bans ‘virtue signaling’, emojis & ‘controversial’ takes on social media

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