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posted by Niranjan Kamatkar

A number of recent comments about broadcasters like BBC and CNN, that they are sometimes either being offensive or are insensitive to their Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender  (LGB & T) audiences, deserve further attention. There is a perception among LGB & T people that sometimes mainstream, public television channels get it clearly wrong when it comes to dealing with gay topics.  Channel 4 faced criticism last year when they invited one of the known anti-gay activists to comment on homosexuality and religion. Complaining to regulatory bodies such as Ofcom and holding effective and wider social media campaigns are a few ways of dealing with the discrimination. Yet it seems that ‘lessons have not been properly learnt’ by some people working within the media.

More than five years ago, in 2005,  a Stonewall research report had recommended to BBC : Start communicating and consulting with lesbian and gay licence-fee payers about their perceptions and experiences of the portrayal of gay people in the output and commit to providing lesbian and gay license fee paying viewers with “value for money”. Another Stonewall study of  gay people on youth television last year concluded out of 126 hours of viewing sample  ‘just seven minutes featured scenes where homophobia was challenged.’

In September 2010, BBC’s own research concluded that LGB people wanted to see more LGB portrayal and greater diversity within it and that a ‘clear majority of the UK population are comfortable with LGB portrayal’ or ‘do not feel strongly’ about it. Ignoring these findings can equate to perpetuating a culture of ignoring ‘equality in all walks of lives’. Television and media plays a big role in shaping cultural values and can effectively stop discrimination from flourishing.   Additionally, comments from Rupert Everett and Golden Globe 2011 winner Glee’s Jane Lynch saying ‘studios would still hesitate to ‘Cast Gay Leading Actors’, make a compelling case for more balanced, informative, entertaining and analytical gay themed programmes and characters on mainstream television and media to show a changing reality.

TV programmes need to reflect upon or have realistic portrayal of current LGBT / glbt themes such as gay parenting, gay marriage and prejudices faced by young or older LGBT people, to help mainstream these issues. They can deal with current trends in the arts, culture,  music, human rights and around educational institutes or students rights or pensioners views. More diverse gay themed coverage is now needed and programmes should be watchable, funny but which also encourage thought-provoking debates on contemporary topics.

Niranjan Kamatkar is artistic director of London’s LGBT art festival GFEST – Gaywise FESTival.

GFEST 2010  images on
GFEST videos on

More info on GFEST – Gaywise FESTival (GFEST in short) web:

WISE THOUGHTS is an arts charity that organises GFEST – Gaywise FESTival  in venues across London. GFEST web networks: