My Complaint to BBC Persian regarding their LGBT Programme

by xenatisch

4 September 2011

Sadegh Saba
Persian Section, World Services
British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)

Bush House, Strand
London WC2B 4PH
United Kingdom

RE: BBC World Services – Persian Programme, Pargar, entitled: Homosexuality, adventitious or genetical? 

Dear Mr Saba, et al.

Following an expression of my appreciation towards the cause of this programme, and indeed the depth of it, I would like to hereby highlight and duly criticise several element that, in accordance with my perspective, and where possible, explicitly based upon references, are not either based on reality, are deluded, or are otherwise with considerable lack of credibility to show in a public media.

Most importantly, some of the arguments underlined throughout this programme were neither explicitly nor implicitly based upon any credible source. The most important one amongst them could be initiated as where a research conducted in Russia regarding homosexuality was cited, in which a number of 50 children were detached from the society and held in an isolated environment within which they were taught about and adapted towards homosexual lifestyles. This assertion could be strongly challenged as follows:

  1. Russian Federation’s international Human Rights obligations require the government to provide the citizens with reasonable services. Russia is also a party to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), and is therefore obliged to ensure that the individuals are not being rendered vulnerable to the violation of other human rights. This is a United Nations treaty and was signed on 18th of March 1968, and ratified on 16th of October 1973. [1]
  2. Additionally, I would like to further emphasise the international obligations towards Russia regarding the Children’s Rights. Russian Federation is, with no reservations, a party to the International Convention on the Rights of the Child and is therefore obliged to observe its articles. The relevant obligations are as follows: [2]

Article 23 – Section 4: States Parties shall promote, in the spirit of international cooperation, the exchange of appropriate information in the field of preventive health care and of medical, psychological and functional treatment of disabled children, including dissemination of and access to information concerning methods of rehabilitation, education and vocational services, with the aim of enabling States Parties to improve their capabilities and skills and to widen their experience in these areas. In this regard, particular account shall be taken of the needs of developing countries.

Article 24 – Section 2, Part B: To ensure the provision of necessary medical assistance and health care to all children with emphasis on the development of primary health care.

Article 39: States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to promote physical and psychological recovery and social reintegration of a child victim of: any form of neglect, exploitation, or abuse; torture or any other form of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; or armed conflicts. Such recovery and reintegration shall take place in an environment which fosters the health, self-respect and dignity of the child.

I therefore reject the possibility of conduction of any such research within Russian Federation following which the results have been made public and found credible by the international medical and psychological communities. This claim is therefore academically dismissible and cannot be referenced.

Thereafter, I would like to further demonstrate the followings arguments in dismissal of another claim upon the relevancy of being risen in a homosexual environment and becoming a homosexual as a result.

Sullivan has concluded as follows in his research:

The review concludes that there is no evidence of confused gender identity amongst children but that more research is needed especially on adoptive families.” [3]

It is supplementary demonstrable, as indicated by the French organisation APGL (Association des Parents et futurs parents Gays et Lesbians: Association of Gay and Lesbian Parents and future parents), that:

Overall … results of research to date suggest that children of lesbian and gay parents have normal relationships with peers and that their relationships with adults of both sexes are also satisfactory.

…Not a single study has found children of gay or lesbian parents to be disadvantaged in any significant respect relative to children of heterosexual parents. Indeed, the evidence to date suggests that home environments provided by gay and lesbian parents are as likely as those provided by heterosexual parents to support and enable children’s psychosocial growth.” [4]

The Scottish government therefore concludes: “The [above-indicated] review further argues that research suggests that children of lesbian mothers develop patterns of gender-role behaviour that are much like those of other children.”  [4]

I consider it appropriate to also additionally point out the following argument in support of my statement. The American Academy of Paediatrics has issued a report in which it is concluded:

A growing body of scientific literature demonstrates that children who grow up with 1 or 2 gay and/or lesbian parents fare as well in emotional, cognitive, social, and sexual functioning as do children whose parents are heterosexual. Children’s optimal development seems to be influenced more by the nature of the relationships and interactions within the family unit than by the particular structural form it takes.” [6]

Considering the fact that the demonstration of observations and ideas were mainly based upon a socio-psychological perspective, the above statements arguably challenge the credibility of them.

There was another indication of an unproven hypothesis as one of your guest speakers stressed that the fingers of the homosexual individuals are different from those heterosexual. It is to be noted that this hypothesis has never been the theory of a thesis and thus has never transformed to a proven fact. It is therefore an inappropriate subject to mention without indicating the surrounding details. It might well harm the society and result in individuals talking prejudicial and detrimental actions towards the children meeting such unproven criteria.

Furthermore, it was claimed that homosexuality is diagnosed as transsexuality in Iran. Article 3.10.2 of the United Kingdom Border Agency (UKBA) operational guidance note on Iran indicates the following:

Sexual issues are considered taboo in Iran, and there is widespread misinformation about homosexuality. Gay men and lesbian face harassment, ostracism and abuse from their families, friends and acquaintances. The homophobic culture that rules Iranian society puts enormous pressure on homosexuals. Societal as well as official scrutiny of ‘deviant’ behaviour is widespread in Iran, with neighbours and even family members enlisted to support the state’s moral policing. Many Iranians consider homosexuality a disease or sickness. For some, homosexuality among men is synonymous with paedophilia. As a result, gay men and lesbians in Iran cannot be open about their sexual orientation. Many suppress their feelings. There are also reports of sex-change operations or hormone therapy to escape persecution. Some also face arranged or forced marriages insisted on by their families.” [7]

It is also significant to additionally notice the article 3.10.6 of the same guidance which indicates:

The government in Iran provided grants of as much as 45 million Rials (£2,700) and loans of as much as 55 million Rials (£3,000) for transgender persons willing to undergo gender reassignment surgery. Human rights activists and NGOs reported that some members of the gay, lesbian and bisexual community have been pressured to undergo gender reassignment surgery to avoid legal and social persecutions in the country. In September 2009 international newspapers reported that a family court allowed the first transgender marriage between a woman and her male partner, previously also a woman.” [8]

Duly, I would hereby dismiss this claim as follows:

It is evident within the above statement that the corresponding authorities have in fact neither demonstrated nor indicated homosexuality to be the same as transsexuality. In order to undertake a transgender reassignment surgery in Iran for a transexual individual, and to be accordingly entitled to the public funds for it, it is obligatory to undergo and sustain various medical and psychological tests following which a permission of the national forensics organisation must be issued as a final green-light.

In due course, I would like to sincerely request the producers of such sensitive programmes, which are meant to redefine or otherwise refine the already-damaged and unwilling-to-change cultures, to choose their invitees more carefully and examine the credibility of their claims more accurately. Some of the claims made within this programme, such as those regarding the children or questioning the reliability of various academically recognised researches, without providing immediate proofs, are most unacceptable, partially offensive, humiliating and are arguably on a hearsay basis. The World Services of the British Broadcasting Corporation is expected to take a greater care of its productions and prevent its programmes to spread false or inaccurate information.

Ultimately, I find it important to indicate that sexuality (sexual orientation) and gender identity are two different concepts. Based upon some studies, sexuality may be considered as a part of the gender identity of an individual within which, however, it does not necessarily play the most important role.

It is noteworthy that parts of this programme contained strong language and inappropriate contents for unsupervised children, and was therefore required to observe an age-limit policy of over 12 with parental guardianship. Failure to accomplish this observation breached the United Kingdom Child Safeguarding Act 2004.

As a recommendation, I believe that it would be more appropriate to have invitees with relevant issues present within the programme as well (i.e. panel 2). This could be interpreted as the members of the LGBT community (not the activists) and those with relevant alma mater studies, whose questions could be found more challenging and meaningful. Moreover, it would be more constructive to further manage the discussions and avoid personal arguments within social-scientific shows as they might yield negative impacts upon the comprehension and apprehension of the audiences. I would like to additionally endorse that in order to contemplate and asses issues relevant to genetics or sociology, it would be a better concept to invite those with authority and academic background within the relevant subject areas. On the other hand, more appropriate subjects could be discussed with those invitees who are particularly specialised in advocacy or activism of the debating topics.

I would like to therefore request your administration to read this letter within the same programme, and have it displayed upon the correlated part of the website.

I trust this is in order and look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely,

Pouria Hadjibagheri
Political, Civil and LGBT Rights Activist
Member of the United Nations Association of the UK
Member of Amnesty International and Reporters without Borders
Co-Founder and Trustee of Persian Gay and Lesbian Liberators Organisation of the UK

British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) – Department of Complaints, Darlington – UK.
BBC World Services Complaints – Bush House, London – UK.


1 United Nations, Treaty Series, vol. 993, p. 3.

2 United Nations, Treaty Series, vol. 1577, p. 3.

3 Sullivan, A., (1995). Issues In Gay and Lesbian Adoption: Proceedings of the Fourth Annual Peirce-Warwick Adoption Symposium, Washington, DC: Child Welfare League of America. – p. 26.

4 Also consider: Patterson et al. (1996)

5 Selman, P. et al. (2004). Website of the Scottish Government, Annex B: Research on Same-Sex Parenting [ONLINE – Accessed: 3 September 2011]

6 Perrin, C. et al (2002). Technical Report; Co-parent or second-parent adoption by same-sex parents, Pediatrics, Vol. 109 no 2.

ALSO CONSIDER: Hicks, S. and McDermott, J. (Eds.) (1999) Lesbian and Gay Fostering and Adoption: Extraordinary Yet Ordinary, Jessica Kingsley Publishers, London.

ALSO CONSIDER: Strah D. (2003) Gay Dads, New York: Putnam.

7 Government of the United Kingdom – Home Office’s UKBA Operational Guidance Note on Iran: Iran OGN v6 – Issued 15 March 2011. Article 3.10.2.

8 Government of the United Kingdom – Home Office’s UKBA Operational Guidance Note on Iran: Iran OGN v6 – Issued 15 March 2011. Article 3.10.6.