BBC Arabic service colludes with homophobia in the Middle East

Anti-LGBT+ views broadcast without criticism or dissent, fuelling prejudice 


London, UK – 5 July 2021


The taxpayer funded BBC Arabic service has repeatedly given a platform to homophobia in the Middle East, according to an extensive probe by investigative journalist David Rose published in today’s Daily Mail.

Comments broadcast from viewers and shared without criticism by the BBC suggest that coronavirus is a result of homosexuality, call for gay men to be jailed for life and brand the rainbow flag a ‘sign of moral decline’.

They appeared on BBC Trending, a daily programme produced at Broadcasting House in London which features viewers’ comments on news stories and reaches 42 million people across the Arab world – and can be viewed online in the UK.

After being caught out, a BBC spokesman admitted: “These broadcasts did not meet our editorial standards and we apologise to our viewers.”

Commenting on David Rose’s report, human rights campaigner Peter 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. Their reports colluded with bigotry.

“They are fuelling anti-LGBT+ prejudice across the Arab world and contributing to the toxic hate that leads to LGBTs living in fear of discrimination and violent attack.

“The BBC’s response is not good enough. It always makes similar statements when it has been repeatedly caught out promoting homophobia. But nothing changes. No staff are sanctioned or sacked. The homophobia continues.

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

“The presenters should be disciplined for gross professional misconduct.

“The programmes are viewable in the UK and these incidents appear to be in violation of UK equality laws and OfCom rules. OfCom should investigate and take action against the BBC.

​”By failing to initiate proceedings against the BBC, OfCom is ignoring its statutory obligations. These programmes were hosted by a UK-based broadcaster, the BBC, and were viewable by people in the UK. OfCom therefore has jurisdiction and a duty to take action against the BBC

“BBC Arabic is not the only World Service channel that has faced accusations of anti-LGBT+ bias. There were similar complaints about BBC Persian last December.

“There needs to be a full investigation into the BBC World Service Radio and TV. Both have been repeatedly accused of promoting homophobia. The BBC is not maintaining scrutiny over its output. It has failed to train its overseas service staff in LGBT+ awareness and their obligations under BBC guidelines and UK equality law,” said Mr Tatchell.