Staff at the British Broadcasting Corporation have been banned from Pride.
New guidelines at the world's biggest broadcaster stipulate that employees could be warned or suspended if they attend any events related to the LGBTQ+ celebration, reports i, a British newspaper.
The ban is being justified under the requirement that BBC employees be politically neutral. Pride and Black Lives Matter events have been classified as "political protests," David Jordan, the BBC’s director of editorial policy and standards, told senior executives in a Wednesday meeting.
Sources told i that executives felt pressured to institute the ban due to the fight over transgender rights; attending Pride might make an employee seem biased on the issue, was their rationale.
The new guidance, reportedly issued by the BBC's director-general, Tim Davie (its editor in chief), says that such attending these events would be “virtue signaling” and staff should avoid them "no matter how apparently worthy the cause or how much their message appears to be accepted or uncontroversial."
While the BBC employs a small army — it has at least 22,000 workers who are full-time — the ban would apply only to departments that report on news or current affairs. The move is "obviously to please the Daily Mail [tabloid] and to make the BBC less of a target by rowing back," a source said.
LGBTQ+ employees are reportedly furious about the rule change, which could limit the company's normally annual coverage of Pride in London, in Manchester, and around the globe — or any gathering of LGBTQ+ folks.
Transgender rights have become a hot-button issue in the United Kingdom. Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling has emerged as the most high-profile critic of the movement, but she is far from alone in her views. The tabloids frequently report on anti-trans backlash to gains, including outrage over the premiere this year of First Day, an Australian series about a trans girl beginning middle school.