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BBC pulls Free Speech panel question about being gay and Muslim

Presenter says mosque expressed ‘deep concerns’ about hosting the discussion

In introducting BBC’s Free Speech panel show, presenter Rick Edwards said the discussion about being gay and Muslim would be held at a later date, as the mosque that was originally going to host it had expressed ‘deep concerns’ about proceeding. Credit:
The BBC pulled a discussion about being gay and Muslim from its Free Speech panel show. Clip from BBC3 (uploaded by Raheem Kassam)

The BBC is being criticized for pulling a discussion about being gay and Muslim from its Free Speech show, Pink News reports.

Panellists were set to answer the question “When will it be accepted to be Muslim and gay?” but the Birmingham Central Mosque, the venue that was hosting the debate, reportedly had reservations about proceeding with the show, the report says.

The show’s presenter, Rick Edwards, who revealed the mosque’s fears in his introduction, indicated that the topic will be revisited in the March 25 program.

A number of observers took the BBC to task for pulling the plug on the discussion. Among the BBC’s critics is Raheem Kassam, managing editor of Breitbart London, who says the broadcaster failed “to do its job properly” by allowing the debate to be censored.

Kassam also noted in a blog post that no one on the assembled panel — which included a Liberal Democrat politician, an editor from the Huffington Post, a transgender activist and a comedian — objected to the withdrawal of the debate question.

The National Secular Society’s campaign manager, Stephen Evans, also criticized the broadcaster, saying it was “absurd” to censor a program on free speech.

The BBC released a statement saying that it is “determined” to have the discussion but that it made the decision to delay it out of respect for the mosque.

It says the topic will be “debated in full” March 25.