The BBC coverage of equal marriage

By Adam Cuerden

The BBC coverage of the gay marriage issue in Scotland almost inevitably includes a quote from the Catholic church attacking basic civil rights for gay and lesbian people, unless the article is already full of hatred.

The links in this article include most of the coverage back to December or so, in which time the BBC have published several anti-equal rights screeds, grabbed quotes from previous interviews when they didn’t have enough hatred already, and, when they do publish articles which make a case for gay marriage, ignore any religious bodies that support gay marriage while focusing in on those that oppose it.

While they occasionally report without directly attacking the subject, the case for the issue is not allowed to be made, events are merely reported on, without giving space to supporters’s views – in direct contrast to how they treat anti-equal rights commenters. Exceptions to these problems, while welcome are rare.

There are many churches that support gay marriage, including the Quakers, Unitarians, Liberal Jews, and the Humanists (who, while not a church, conduct more marriages in Scotland than the Catholic church); and yet, the coverage of this issue almost never has a religious group who supports equal marriage, but instead goes to the Catholics for some hatred.

This is a classic form of false balance. Equal rights are a long-standing British tradition, and it’s shameful that the BBC apparently thinks attacks on equal rights are necessary balance.

Should you wish to complain to the BBC, click here.

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0 Responses to The BBC coverage of equal marriage

  1. Is it fair to lay the blame solely at the BBC? Could it be that there are many organisations making a lot of noise on the anti-side whereas the right side is just more reserved and adult about the whole thing?

    Also would have been good to see some figures on pro versus anti stories/quotes to accompany the piece.

    Though when I looked myself the issue did seem dominated by religious opposition in many of the articles.

  2. Cuerden says:

    I’ve added a small clarificaton – the links should be most of the coverage of the BBC since December, though I’ll emphasise I only looked at Scotland, not the many American stories. I just did a search for gay marriage, then evaluated the relevant ones. I may have missed some, but it should be reasonably complete for the time period I looked at.

  3. Cuerden says:

    As for there being many organisations making a lot of noise on the anti-side, well, the vast majority of BBC articles that attack equal marriage do so using a quote from the Catholic Church. The only voices I saw not from the Catholic church were people acting in their own right, not as part of an organisation.

  4. Dalradian says:

    I would hope that the BBC would have a high standard, since they are meant to observe “balance” in their stories as they are publicly funded – much more than those media outlets driven by proprietors editorial line such as the Daily Fail sorry, Mail.
    So the selective reporting is more worrying because if the BBC, who often set the editorial line of the day via R4 Today, can’t tell the full story of religious opinion without making it a matter of “them versus us” we have a problem.

  5. Garry Otton says:

    Spot on. I’m glad someone is picking up on this. The National Secular Society have been getting the same treatment. ‘Militant secularist’ is a catchword the BBC have been revelling in. The Bideford case resulted in Lord Carey being invited on to discuss it and when the following week they had two people to discuss it, the ‘pro-secularist’ was ranting about ‘militant secularists’. You only need to see the connections between religionists, the huge funding received by their religious department and the way they interrupt the morning news every day to deliver religious propaganda to know where they are coming from.

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