The claims have been made by LGBT charity, the Peter Tatchell Foundation, which says a recent post on the BBC Persian website used a number of derogatory terms, also comparing gay people to opium addicts and people who commit incest.
Peter Tatchell (pictured) of the LGBT charity, the Peter Tatchell Foundation. The charity has asked the BBC to explain the publication of a ‘homophobic’ article on BBC Persia
On another occasion, the site mockingly referred to ‘so called’ LGBT+ Pride and apparently attempted to out an Iranian interviewee.
This was broadcast on its TV channel on July 6, 2019, and is still available online, despite protests by LGBT+ Iranians urging it to be removed, the charity said.
Director and campaigner Peter Tatchell has now sent a strongly-worded letter to BBC Director General Tim Davie, condemning the ‘appalling homophobia’ of BBC Persian, its alleged ‘apologia’ for the tyranny in Tehran and its seeming praise for ‘Jihad and martyr’s culture.’
He also demands a public apology and urging the ‘dismissal of the director of BBC Persian.’
The Peter Tatchell has written a letter to top BBC chief Tim Davie (pictured and other senior figures at the broadcaster for an explanation
Furthermore, Mr Tatchell calls for an independent inquiry into the ‘administration, staffing, monitoring and content of the BBC Persian service;’ querying whether ‘BBC Persian is infiltrated by staff who are apologists or possibly agents for the Iranian dictatorship.’
Iran is ruled by a theocratic regime and homosexual behaviour, adultery and sex outside of marriage are illegal under Iranian law and can carry the death penalty.
When approached for comment, the BBC said the article was a ‘freelance opinion piece’, and that it had been updated.
‘A freelance opinion piece has been updated with an acknowledgement on our website,’ the statement from a BBC spokesman said. ‘We will provide a full response to Mr Tatchell in due course.’
Iran is ruled by a theocratic regime and homosexual behaviour, adultery and sex outside of marriage are illegal under Iranian law and can carry the death penalty. Pictured: Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei addresses the people on Friday in a live broadcast
The BBC’s Persian service (pictured) has been accused of promoting the Iranian regime’s homophobic views with posts calling gay people ‘f*****s’ and ‘an abomination’ by LGBT charity, the Peter Tatchell Foundation
An explanation and apology was also added to the article to say that it had been updated – a translated version of which has been provided to the MailOnline.
‘In an earlier version of this article, a word was used to refer to homosexual relations in the historical context of Iran that is not among the terms that BBC uses to describe sexual orientations and was therefore inappropriate. It is now corrected,’ the editorial note in the article read.
Originally from Australia, Peter Tatchell is a British human rights campaigner, focusing primarily on working with LGBT social movements.
In 1981, he was selected as the Labour Party’s parliamentary candidate for Bermondse, but is now affiliated with the Green Party after joining in 2004.
The Peter Tatchell Foundation’s full letter to the BBC
Dear Tim Davie, Jamie Angus and Fran Unsworth
I would appreciate your prompt explanation of the shocking allegations of appalling homophobia on the BBC Persian language service website on 28 December 2020, as set out in the attached PDF.
BBC Persian published a post describing LGBT+ people as ‘hamjensbaz’, which I am told is the Persian language equivalent of the word ‘faggot.’ It took huge protests from LGBT+ Iranians to get this disgusting language removed.
The post went on to compare LGBT+ people to opium addicts and people who have sex with their siblings. Again, only after protests was this deleted but it was replaced by the equally offensive insult ‘ghabahat’ – which apparently means abomination.
This echoes official homophobic views of the Iranian tyranny.
The post also seems to praise this tyranny in words similar to those used by state propagandists in Tehran. It allegedly includes praise such as:
‘The Islamic Republic benefitted Iranian citizens by ‘cutting the hands of foreigners’, promoting…Jihad and martyrs culture’.
It is reprehensible and unacceptable that the BBC promotes hate speech and apologia for a dictatorship.
Pictured: Royal Air Force veteran David Bonney (right) and human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell lay a rainbow wreath at the Cenotaph, in Whitehall, London, following the Remembrance Sunday service on November 8, 2020
Moreover, on 6 July 2019 BBC Persian TV broadcast a news story seemingly mocking what it allegedly described as ‘so-called’ LGBT Pride.
This video is still online and requests by LGBT+ Iranians to remove it have been ignored.
The outcry among LGBT+ Iranians that these two incidents have prompted is evidence that they cannot be explained away as people not understanding Farsi or the nuances of Iranian culture. The fact LGBT+ Iranians are so angry and upset suggests that BBC Persian is guilty of gross repeated homophobia.
I am urging the BBC to make the following amends:
A. A public apology and correction issued to the UK mainstream and LGBT+ media and posted on the BBC website.
B. If the allegations are shown to be true, the Director of BBC Persian should be dismissed for allowing repeated homophobic content.
C. Please explain what LGBT+ content you intend to put out on BBC Persian to counter and amend this apparent anti-LGBT+ prejudice promoted by the BBC.
This incident raises broader serious questions:
D. I would like an inquiry into persistent allegations that BBC Persian is infiltrated by staff who are apologists or possibly agents for the Iranian dictatorship. It has been long alleged that the Iranian regime has a secret programme to place people supportive of its policies and objectives in western media and political circles.
E. Please explain what vetting is undertaken by the BBC when appointing staff to BBC Persian to ensure they are not officially or unofficially agents or apologists for the Iranian dictatorship.
F. Can you advise me what LGBT+ awareness and sensitivity training is given to BBC Persian and other BBC World Service staff, who are often from countries where anti-LGBT+ prejudice, discrimination and violence is the norm?
G. I would be grateful to know what procedures are in place to monitor the content of BBC Persian to ensure that its output conforms to BBC journalistic and ethical standards.
H. Furthermore, the alleged non-reporting or biased reporting by BBC Persian of human rights abuses of minority nationalities in Iran, such as the Baluch, Ahwazi Arabs and Kurds, has been subject to long standing criticisms and seems to defy the BBC’s remit of truthful, fair and objective reporting. It smacks of de facto racism by omission towards these persecuted ethnic minorities. I would like this investigated as well.
I. I am urging that you appoint an independent inquiry into the administration, staffing, monitoring and content of the BBC Persian service.
Please advise at your earliest convenience.
Director, Peter Tatchell Foundation