BBC’s Persian branch ‘used homophobic slurs in blog’
The BBC has become engulfed in a homophobia row after its Persian unit allegedly ran a blog in Farsi featuring derogatory terms about the LGBT community.
Peter Tatchell, the human rights campaigner, said he had complained to the BBC World Service about the post, which was originally published in 2018 and allegedly promoted homophobic views.
Mr Tatchell said it had used a Farsi word that translated as “faggot” to describe members of the LGBT community. The BBC said it would investigate.
The post has been amended with a correction stating: “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 the BBC uses to describe sexual orientations and was therefore inappropriate.”
But Mr Tatchell also complained that a video run on the BBC Persian TV station was still available online.
It appeared to mock a Pride event in London in 2019, referring to it as the “so called” LGBT+ Pride and allegedly featuring an attempt to out an Iranian interviewee on air.
In a letter to Tim Davie, the BBC director general, Mr Tatchell condemned the “appalling homophobia” of BBC Persian content. He demanded a public apology and called for the dismissal of Rozita Lotfi, the BBC Persian director.
Mr Tatchell also pressed for an inquiry “into persistent allegations that BBC Persian is infiltrated by staff who are apologists or possibly agents for the Iranian dictatorship”.
The BBC said: “A freelance opinion piece has been updated with an acknowledgement on our website. We will provide a full response to Mr Tatchell in due course.”
BBC Persian is banned in Iran and, according to a UN report, its expat staff have faced intimidation from the regime, including death threats against Iranian-based relatives.