Belfast Telegraph

Corporation bids to clarify position due to 'confusion'

Peter Johnston
Peter Johnston

Yesterday's statement from BBC Northern Ireland director Peter Johnston:

I've just returned from annual leave and thought that it might be helpful for me to summarise what's actually happening with staff involvement in the Belfast Pride Parade 2019. I know that all of this has generated quite a bit of interest and debate - both within the BBC and beyond.

It's clear that there has been some confusion about the terms and basis for BBC staff involvement in the Belfast Pride Parade 2019.

The BBC Pride staff network (a staff-led initiative that operates across the UK) will be taking part in the Belfast Pride Parade along with colleagues, family and friends. BBC Pride provides encouragement, friendship, advice and support to staff of all sexualities.

It does important work in helping to make the BBC an inclusive and diverse organisation. And we've been supportive of the local group and its members.

We know that there are legislative issues specific to Northern Ireland in relation to same-sex marriage. These raise important considerations for the BBC in the context of its Editorial Guidelines, including the requirement to maintain due impartiality within our output.

None of this means that members of the BBC Pride network cannot be involved in Pride festivities in Belfast, but it does require BBC Northern Ireland to avoid creating the impression that it has a position on matters of political contention or controversy.

The BBC's Editorial Guidelines provide clear advice in this regard. It is on this basis that BBC NI will not be involved corporately in the Belfast Pride parade and that individual programme brands will not be represented.

As, and if, wider circumstances change, we will keep all of this under review. And we will continue to report and provide a forum for debate about issues relating to same-sex marriage in ways that are fair, accurate and impartial.

Our fundamental commitment is to serving and reflecting the needs of all BBC audiences and to achieving that objective with a diverse workforce in which everyone is valued.

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