Another month goes by, and the right-wing media commentators spin their tombola for deciding who it will be that launches the next attack on the LGBTQ+ community. This time around it’s Stephen Nolan, popular radio host and TV personality in his most recent BBC Sounds podcast, “Nolan Investigates: Stonewall”. Within this show, Nolan likens the LGBTQ+ charity Stonewall to being a shady backroom organisation, “capturing” public bodies and influencing them on their impartiality rules and disciplinary proceedings.
BBC tolerates transphobia
This is not the first time that Nolan has platformed anti-LGBTQ+ views, even if he himself claims to be impartial. Earlier this year, Nolan invited ex-DUP MLA Jim Wells onto his BBC Radio Ulster show, as well as Bev Jackson of the transphobic organisation “LGB Alliance” to debate the efficacy and morality of so-called “conversion therapy”. Wells was very happy to espouse his contempt for the LGBTQ+ community, saying “…we know from the LGBT community that they demand one thing; they get it…and then they’re onto the next demand.”
So why does Nolan feel comfortable in platforming these commentators? Nolan stresses his “impartiality of all costs.” When it comes to defending the rights of oppressed minorities it is right to take a side. Nolan has sided with bigoted organisation over trans* people facing discrimination and hate on a daily basis. Nolan should understand the reach that his platform has and use it to expose and condemn those who seek to further attack those who already face great hardship within our society.
Following the publication of Nolan’s podcast, the BBC has announced that it will be removing itself from Stonewall’s Diversity Champions scheme, where organisations pay Stonewall to provide advice and support around making workplaces a welcoming environment for LGBTQ+ people. In a statement, the BBC said, “our participation in the Programme has led some to question whether the BBC can be impartial when reporting on public policy debates where Stonewall is taking an active role”. The BBC says it opened a review of their relationship with Stonewall before the publication of Nolan’s podcast, however it would be hard not to notice a link between the two.
A dangerous trend
This attack has not come out of the blue. In October, the BBC published a widely
condemned article, “We’re being pressured into sex by some trans women”, which infamously used a Twitter poll with 80 respondents as evidence of its claims. The article relies heavily on the testament of Angela C. Wild, co-founder of the transphobic organisation “Get The L Out”, who in 2018, forced its way to the front of London’s Pride parade to protest the inclusion of transgender people. In a statement, they described trans women as “males who identify as lesbians”. Despite this, the BBC was happy to include them as a legitimate source in their article.
It is clear from this that there is no end in sight to the sustained attack on LGBTQ+ and specifically transgender and nonbinary people by the right-wing media. Nolan’s crusade is linked with a broader attempt to undermine and roll back on trans rights as we have seen by the Tories u-turn on the right of people to self-identify their own gender. Socialists stand in solidarity with our transgender sibblings and continue to fight side by side with them to further secure their rights against a right-wing establishment that is determined to removing the few that they have.
By Daragh Logue