After pulling out of Stonewall’s Diversity Champions programme, the BBC has released a 10-part investigative podcast and article titled Stonewall’s influence on BBC and Ofcom revealed as it announced its ‘investigation’ into the LGBTQ+ organisation. The report found Ofcom is continuing to submit information to the Stonewall’s Workplace Equality Index program, despite also having cut ties with the charity, with an Ofcom representative saying: “Our participation in the Stonewall Equality Index has no bearing whatsoever on any of our broadcasting standards decisions.”
While the BBC did not release any information about its participation in the Workplace Equality Index scheme, a former BBC journalist said she believes that workers are ‘afraid’ to speak out against Stonewall, adding: “How can it not have a chilling effect when it is writ large across the BBC that we are a [Stonewall] champion. I can’t think of anything else that the BBC has done that’s in the same ball park.” Stonewall told the podcast that it is “completely normal and appropriate for charities to engage with public sector organisations”, as it strives to create more inclusive workplaces in the UK.
LGBTQ+ activists and politicians have criticised the BBC investigation, with the hashtag #IStandWithStonewall circulating on social media. LGBT+ Labour described the BBC report as an “attack” that was “co-ordinated by those who seek to play with fire, by those who mean us harm, and by those who know better.” MP Zarah Sultana also condemned the “hateful campaign”, adding: “Relentless attempts to vilify Stonewall, simply because they stand up for trans rights, are shameful and frightening. That the BBC is using public money to amplify such a hateful campaign, reminiscent of homophobic moral panics, beggars belief.”
Stonewall said it makes no apology “for working towards a better world for LGBTQ+ people”, as it continues its current work to ban conversion therapy, support LGBTQ+ refugees and help LGBTQ+ people report hate crimes.