Responding to the BBC’s major new research into lesbian and gay representation, and its commitment to improve the coverage it gives to gay people and issues, Stonewall Chief Executive Ben Summerskill said:
‘We’re delighted that the BBC is taking these important steps forward and has agreed to do so across all its platforms and genres. The BBC is a hugely important part of our cultural glue and belongs to everybody. It’s right that everyone in modern Britain should be reflected in its output.
‘These findings confirm those of Stonewall research in recent years which show that both gay and heterosexual licence-payers want to see more realistic, incidental representations of gay people on their TV screens.’
‘We recognise that the BBC has taken some steps forward in recent years and we’re very pleased that it now intends to build on that progress.’
Recent research commissioned by Stonewall has shown that the BBC's portrayal of gay people has rarely been positive and realistic. Unseen on Screen, published in July, found that of 39 hours of BBC1 programmes most watched by young people only 44 seconds portrayed gay people in a positive and realistic light. Tuned Out, published in 2006, found that in 168 hours of BBC prime time programmes, gay lives were positively portrayed for just six minutes.
Seven in ten school teachers feel that homophobic language in broadcast media has an effect on the levels of homophobic bullying in school (YouGov for Stonewall, 2009)
‘TV powerfully influences not only the self-esteem of children growing up gay, but also the level of respect that other young people have for their fellow gay citizens ,’ said Ben Summerskill. ‘If the BBC does what it has pledged to do, all young people will benefit.’