The BBC is defending its decision to include an interview with an anti-gay fundamentalist in a news report aired last week about the birth of Elton John and David Furnish's surrogate child. The broadcaster says it was an effort to present "all sides of the debate."
The report aired Dec 28 on BBC's News at Six. It features just one interview, with fundamentalist Stephen Green from a group called Christian Voice, who says: "This isn’t just a designer baby for Sir Elton John, this is a designer accessory... Now it seems like money can buy him anything, and so he has entered into this peculiar arrangement... A baby needs a mother, and it seems an act of pure selfishness to deprive a baby of a mother."
In December 2009, Green was quoted in a Christian Voice press release defending a proposed Ugandan law that would make homosexuality punishable by death: "a parliamentarian in Uganda is trying to protect his nation’s children."
The BBC item conveniently neglects to mention that the person they found to publicly condemn John and Furnish would be cool with a government sentencing the couple to death for sodomy.
PinkNews reports that a BBC spokesman defended the decision to include Green:
"The BBC claim that there is genuine debate about gay couples having surrogate children and that it was right for the BBC to find someone who was opposed to the practise as the only interview in the report."
The controversy stemming from the BBC's efforts to provide "balance" is regrettably familiar to followers of Canadian mainstream media, where it's become commonplace to encounter the opinions of evangelical Charles McVety in reports on issues related to the gay community.
Back in April of last year you could've used the minute hand of a clock to measure the elapsed time between The Globe and Mail's trumpeting of McVety's opposition to Ontario's revised sex education curriculum on page A1 — the Globe's most prominent editorial real estate — and Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty's decision to abandon the curriculum.
The April 21 article, titled "The end of innuendo: Ont schools making sex education more explicit," reports that opposition to the curriculum "came to light" when "members of a religious, 'family-focused' coalition threatened to pull their children out of school on May 10 unless Premier Dalton McGuinty abandons the changes." It continues:
Christian right leader Charles McVety, who is also part
of the coalition, said it is unconscionable to teach children as young
as eight years old gender identity and sexual orientation. He accused
the Premier of listening to "special interest groups with an agenda,"
including former education minister Kathleen Wynne, who is openly gay.
The article makes no effort to explain what the "agenda" might be, but after McVety's recent censure by the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) for violating industry standards — in part for his views on the motivation behind the curriculum — we now know more about what inspired his opposition.
The CBSC decision includes this transcript from the Jan 17, 2010, edition of McVety's show, The Word:
When we send little Johnny and little Jane to school, not to learn to be homosexuals and lesbians. We send them there to learn reading, writing and arithmetic and history and all these wonderful things, but unfortunately there is an activist group that is afoot that wants to change our curriculum. Why? Because unfortunately they have an insatiable appetite for sex, especially with young people. And there’re not enough of them, so they want to proselytize your children and mine, our grandchildren and turn them into homosexuals.
So the leader of the successful charge against the curriculum was motivated by his belief that there is a gay agenda to convert children to homosexuality, because of an "insatiable appetite for sex." Either The Globe and Mail didn't report this or McVety left it out when he talked to reporters from the paper. It's a significant omission, particularly considering this twisted theory caused the CBSC to rebuke McVety and Crossroads Television Ontario (CTS) to temporarily pull his show.
If McVety's homophobic delusions about gay conspiracies to convert children aren't enough to make our mainstream media stop taking him seriously, perhaps they should take a look at a recent Jewish Tribune article examining the CBSC's ruling after the ruling was misrepresented in the National Post. McVety defends himself against the charges:
“They accuse me of saying that homosexuals prey on children. I never said that,” Rev McVety told the Jewish Tribune. “I didn't imply it."
According to the transcripts included in the CBSC decision, he unequivocally said homosexuals prey on children.
Let's hope the Canadian mainstream media's 2011 new year's resolutions include removing Christian ministers with records of untruthfulness from their contact lists.