The BBC's flagship News at Six on BBC One featured a right-wing fundamentalist Christian who had previously supported the execution of gay people to comment on the birth of a surrogate son to Sir Elton John and his civil
partner David Furnish. Incredibly, the BBC did not seem to realise that the same preacher had faced bankruptcy after losing an attempted private prosecution for blasphemy against the director general of the BBC after the character of Jesus
described himself as a little bit gay in Jerry Springer: The Opera.
On the 28th December, Sir Elton and his partner, the film-maker David Furnish announced the birth of their son, Zachary Jackson Levon Furnish-John, to an unnamed surrogate mother.
The same night, the BBC broadcast a report by Lizo Mzimba on the birth of the child. With the introduction not everyone is pleased to see such a high profile same sex couple start to raise a surrogate child , Mr Mzimba
proceeded to interview Stephen Green, of right-wing group Christian Voice, without any warning that he is someone who has in the past supported the death penalty for gay men.
In an interview that was visibly edited together, Mr Green told the BBC: This isn't just a designer baby for Sir Elton John, this is a designer accessory… [cut] Now it seems like money can buy him anything, and so he
has entered into this peculiar arrangement…[cut] The baby is a product of it. A baby needs a mother and it seems an act of pure selfishness to deprive a baby of a mother.
The BBC has mounted a defence of its decision to include an interview with a supporter of state sponsored execution of gay men in its
coverage of the birth of Sir Elton John and David Furnish's first child. A spokesman for the corporation told PinkNews.co.uk that the interview with a right-wing Christian fundamentalist allowed the BBC News at Six to reflect a genuine debate over
the issue of surrogacy for gay couples.
In a statement, the BBC said: The practice of surrogacy is a sensitive subject and remains controversial in some quarters. Our short news bulletin featured Elton John talking about wanting to have a child and an opposing viewpoint. All sides of
the debate on surrogacy have been widely reported in the news media and our coverage has reflected this.
The BBC has refused to answer whether other organisations were also contacted to comment on the birth of Sir Elton's child, or if Christian Voice, a small fundamentalist group with around 500 supporters was the only organisation contacted. A BBC
source told PinkNews.co.uk it is Christmas so a lot of people are away or not answering their telephones.
The BBC also declined to comment on whether the reporter or producers working on the report, or the programme editor were aware of Green's background. Although, PinkNews.co.uk points out that a simple search on Google or Bing reveals considerable
coverage of Green's past activities and extremist views.
The BBC has effectively admitted interviewing a known homophobic extremist in order to
reflect what they perceive is a genuine debate over gay couples having surrogate children. The corporation makes no apology for the choice of interviewee. PinkNews.co.uk believes that the BBC were unable to find
anyone else willing to give an interview on camera in opposition to Sir Elton's decision to have a child.
The decision to include an interview with Stephen Green was hurtful not just to the millions of LGBT licence fee payers but also to millions of Christians who do not hold or subscribe to the extremist views of Christian Voice. Most Christians
would not support the abhorrent views of Mr Green and his small band of supporters who simply smear the name of the Christian faith.
6th January 2011.
Ofcom reported receiving 95 complaints about using Stephen Green for sound bite balance
TV Censor Ofcom will not intervene over complaints about BBC News using an anti-gay extremist to 'balance' the Elton
John Surrogacy story.
Viewers have also complained directly to the BBC who has also rejected the complaints.
Ofcom said that its remit meant it was not able to assess the BBC's decision to invite Stephen Green for an interview as broadcasters have editorial freedom.
Those who complained to Ofcom were told:
Ofcom has no creative input into programmes. Broadcasters have editorial freedom in deciding who to invite to participate in programmes including news items such as this. We are therefore unable to comment on the BBC's
decision to include the brief interview with Mr Green in this segment. We can therefore only assess the actual content of the item.
We assessed the news report against Rule 2.3 of the Ofcom Broadcasting Code which requires broadcasters to ensure material that has the potential to offend to be justified in view of the context.
Ofcom said that the news article had a celebratory tone which was briefly countered by Mr Green. Whilst we fully recognise that many consider Mr Green's view to be na´ve and archaic, we must acknowledge that he is entitled
to hold it and these remarks (which were clearly signalled to reflect his own opinion and not the broadcaster) did not contain any aggressive incitement or derogatory language.
Consequently, we will not be recording a breach of Rule 2.3 of the Code on this occasion.