Northern Ireland

Belfast Pride: BBC NI defends decision to join parade

Pride flag
Image caption BBC Staff will be parading in BBC branded t-shirts

BBC Northern Ireland has defended its decision to take part in Belfast's Pride parade for the first time.

Members of a staff group BBC Pride are set to join the procession, wearing branded BBC t-shirts.

TUV leader Jim Allister claimed the move called into question the BBC's impartiality.

But a BBC spokesperson said: "Our programmes continue to adhere to BBC editorial guidelines and values."

Organisers of this year's Belfast Pride festival say that its aim is to highlight rights denied to their community.

Speaking on The Nolan Show on Radio Ulster, Mr Allister said: "The BBC is emphatically, unequivocally, unapologetically, on the side of the political debate represented by the LGBT community.

"The BBC is very clearly declaring what its values are on this issue."

'Diverse organisation'

In response a BBC spokesperson said: "We're proud to be a diverse and inclusive organisation.

"BBC Pride is a UK-wide initiative run independently by staff which brings together people of all sexualities working with the BBC offering friendship, support, advice and a wide range of events.

"A number of staff have now established the network in BBC Northern Ireland, where LGBT+ employees, their friends, family and colleagues will join staff in taking part in their local Pride parade, as BBC colleagues have with other Pride events around the UK.

"Our programmes continue to adhere to BBC editorial guidelines and values", they added.

Image caption Thousands turn out each year for the parade

Sinn Féin MLA Declan Kearney has spoken out in support of the BBC's decision, tweeting " @BBCNIreland's decision re @BelfastPride is very welcome".

He added: "Look forward to a similar position by BBC on events promoting equality for Gaeilge!"

SDLP councillor, Seamas de Faoite welcomed the BBC's decision, saying that the BBC is "clearly providing an appropriate level of support for their [LGBT+] employees".

Belfast Pride is billed as both a celebration of the city's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community and as a protest calling for equality.

About 100 people took part in the city's first Pride parade in 1991.

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