The following statement was provided for Newswatch today about the decision to postpone a debate on homosexuality and Islam on BBC3’s Free Speech programme this week. You can watch Newswatch on Newschannel at 845pm tonight or BBC1 at 745am tomorrow. It’ll be on i-player after.
“BBC Three’s Free Speech is a news and current affairs discussion format based on topical issues some of which are a result of interest from our online community. The Birmingham Mosque had offered the venue as a location for an episode. When asked if there were any issues for discussion that would be off limits, no concerns were raised. Neither the production company nor the BBC would have chosen a venue that unduly limits topics for discussion.
As with all Free Speech programmes, parts of the programme are promoted on radio, online and on social media platforms ahead of transmission to raise awareness of a topics potentially in the programme. Content from a pre-recorded segment, which covered the topic of homosexuality and Islam, was played ahead of transmission on Radio 1 and on local radio. The Mosque received threats which gave us cause for concern to the security of their community.
Discussions took place within two hours of the programme being broadcast live as to the best way to proceed bearing in mind the security of the mosque and respect for their concerns over offending their community. As a result the production company, together with the BBC and the Mosque, made a considered decision to postpone the debate of the topic until March 25th but agreed to show the pre-recorded segment.
This was a decision taken responsibly, with a great deal of thought, consideration and respect and not in any way about censorship of an issue. We were transparent with the audience about the decision.”