Hundreds protest outside BBC headquarters over anti-Trans article

Hundreds gathered outside the BBC to protest an anti-Trans article amid growing actions by the organisation to clamp down on LGBTQ+ rights.

BBC Protest - Photograph of hundreds of people demonstrating outside BBC London head quarters with a furled Trans flag in the centre of the image.
Image: @_scowny

Hundreds of people gathered to protest outside the BBC headquarters in renewed calls for the BBC to retract an article published in October titled ‘We’re being pressured into sex by some trans women’.

The demonstration which took place on Saturday, January 8, was organised by Trans Activism UK and was held outside Broadcasting House in London. It is reported to be the fourth protest since the article was published. Despite adverse weather conditions the demonstration was well attended.

In the article, published online on October 26, 2021, author Caroline Lowbridge, claimed that there is a ‘huge problem’ for lesbians, who are being pressured into having sex with Trans women. The article also contained strong anti-Trans rhetoric and quoted statistics from an online survey conducted via social media, on behalf of a group called ‘Get The L Out’.

Following a widespread backlash, which included a series of complaints as well as an open letter written by Trans Actvism UK signed by over 20,000 people, the BBC issued a statement which stated they received “a wide range of feedback from those who find the article challenging as well as those who welcome its publication”.

Due to further complaints, in early November, the BBC redacted comments made by one of the article’s contributors, Lily Cade. In making the redaction they stated, “We have updated this article, published last week, to remove a contribution from one individual in light of comments she has published on blog posts in recent days, which we have been able to verify.”

Omitting to openly name Cade, they continued, “We acknowledge that an admission of inappropriate behaviour by the same contributor should have been included in the original article.”

Following the original publication, Cade, a self-described “artist of sex”, wrote five blog posts specifically calling for violence against Trans women. As a result, her account was subsequently suspended on Twitter.  However, prior to the article’s publication, Cade had been accused by several women of sexual abuse over a number of years and was openly transphobic.

Despite the BBC initially deeming Cade as a credible contributor, PinkNews reported that Caroline Lowbridge was aware of the sexual assault allegations against Cade prior to publication.

The BBC’s refusal to retract Lowbridge’s article forms part of a growing number of actions taken by the State-funded corporation to pull back on LGBTQ+ rights and equality.

In 2020, they came under fire for issuing questionable guidelines to news and current affairs staff in relation to attending Pride events and Black Lives Matter protests. The guidelines stated, “judgement is required with regard to marches or demonstrations, though it should be assumed that most marches are contentious (in terms of impartiality) to some degree or other.”

They later clarified that staff members are not banned from Pride and Trans right marches but cautioned that those staff attending should not take a “personal public position” if they participate.

Since the publication of the anti-Trans article, the BBC has subsequently undertaken the controversial decision to remove itself from the Stonewall Diversity Champions programme; a scheme that provides training on LGBTQ+ inclusion to employers to ensure that all staff are treated fairly, respectfully and equally in the workplace.

The decision was announced to staff in an email sent around by senior management on November 10, 2021, which cited its intention to remain “impartial when reporting on public policy debates” as its reason for departing the scheme.

Despite this growing number of actions, the article is the first to have sparked a protest against the BBC. Since last Saturday’s protest, the BBC has not yet taken any further action or made comment.

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