BBC chief tells LGBTQ staff to 'get used to' hearing views they 'don't like'

"That’s what the BBC is," Fran Unsworth reportedly said.


Words: Jamie Tabberer; picture: Wiki

The BBC's head of news told LGBTQ co-workers to "get used to" views they didn't agree with during a recent Zoom call, it has been reported.

Fran Unsworth, whose job title is 'Director, News & Current Affairs for BBC News', also told staff they would "hear things they do not personally like" while at work, according to The Sunday Times.

“You’ll hear things you don’t personally like and see things you don’t like - that’s what the BBC is, and you have to get used to that," she reportedly said, adding: “These are the stories we tell. We can’t walk away from the conversation.”

According to the publication, employees have accused the corporation of being "institutionally transphobic."

Unsworth is said to have made the comments during a Zoom meeting with the corporation's Pride network last Friday.

"Constructive and useful"

A BBC rep told Attitude: "The BBC has regular staff meetings and this meeting was constructive and useful."

The meeting was called following unrest among LGBTQ BBC workers and allies over a recent BBC article about lesbian women titled: "We're being pressured into sex by some trans women."

Tim Davie, the BBC's director-general, was also reported to have been on the call. Unsworth is due to leave the BBC in January.

The call also follows backlash to the BBC's decision to exit LGBTQ charity Stonewall's Diversity Champions programme earlier this month.

Stonewall describes the programme on its website as "the leading employers' programme for ensuring all LGBTQ+ staff are free to be themselves in the workplace."

A 'Nolan Investigates' podcast series that claims to look at "the influence Stonewall has in public institutions across the UK, [talking] to a range of voices with a view on sex, gender and identity", has also received criticism.

Last week, several BBC employees told Vice World News that they are quitting the broadcaster over the recent handling of stories related to LGBTQ people.

In its response, the BBC rep also pointed Attitude to the broadcaster's statement about Stonewall, issued last week.

It reads: “The BBC is fully committed to being an industry-leading employer on LGBTQ+ inclusion. We are proud of our lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans colleagues and we support them to have fulfilling careers at the BBC.

“Along with many other UK employers, the BBC has participated in Stonewall’s Diversity Champions Programme to support our objective to create a fully inclusive workplace. However, over time our participation in the Programme has led some to question whether the BBC can be impartial when reporting on public policy debates where Stonewall is taking an active role.

“After careful consideration, we believe it is time to step back from the Diversity Champions Programme and will also no longer participate in Stonewall’s Workplace Equality Index.

“Being a part of the Diversity Champions Programme has never required the BBC to support the campaigns of Stonewall, nor its policy positions. As a broadcaster, we have our own values and editorial standards - these are clearly set out and published in our Editorial Guidelines. We are also governed by the Royal Charter and the Ofcom Broadcasting Code. Our journalists continue, as ever, to report a full range of perspectives on stories.

“Although the BBC will not be renewing its participation in the Diversity Champions Programme, in the future we will continue to work with a range of external organisations, including Stonewall, on relevant projects to support our LGBTQ+ staff.”

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