STAFF working at the BBC will not be allowed to attend LGBT pride marches under the corporation’s new “impartiality” guidelines.

Although the guidelines only apply to staff expected to be politically neutral, such as in news and current affairs, the new policy is said to have left LGBT staff furious.

One source told the i newspaper, which revealed the policy, that the change is “obviously to please the Daily Mail and to make the BBC less of a target”.

The guidance on impartiality, issued by the newly appointed director general Tim Davie, tells staff to avoid “virtue signalling” and not support campaigns “no matter how apparently worthy the cause or how much their message appears to be accepted or uncontroversial”.

The BBC was reportedly pushed to include LGBT events in the ban, which covers things such as Black Lives Matter protests, in order to appear neutral on the trans debate.

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It is unclear where the policy will leave such prominent BBC personalities as Evan Davis, host of Radio 4’s PM programme and Dragon’s Den, who fronts one of the UK’s largest LGBT events, National Student Pride.

The decision, revealed by the i, has already brought the BBC into the firing line on social media, with some suggesting that the ban counterproductively shows that the BBC is not impartial.

Laura Waddell, the Scots columnist and author, said the decision went further than “just your standard corporate 'don't embarrass us on Twitter' spiel”.

“Under these rules, BBC staff can't affirm their own identities,” she said.

National columnist Stephen Paton also criticised the BBC’s policy, saying the corporation had signalled “being gay is a political decision”.

Others, including prominent lawyers, have questioned the legality of the BBC’s move.

Human rights lawyer and professor Adam Wagner wrote: “This is what we lawyers like to call ‘unlawful discrimination’.”

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Nazir Afzal, a former chief crown prosecutor who now sits on the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) complaints committee, added: “I don’t recall the BBC getting an exemption from the Equality Act, the Human Rights Act, and Employment Legislation that forbids discrimination.”

The Scottish Greens’ Ross Greer asked: “Was there really not a single lawyer or political/PR adviser at any of the senior management meetings which led to this?”

LGBT activist Jordan Daly wrote: “The alarming thing is that the message [the BBC] appear to be sending with this, as an institution, is that they believe our rights and freedoms are not beyond debate.”

Another added: “This is not impartiality. My right to my safe existence, and that of my family and friends, is not a debate to take sides in.”

A spokesperson for the BBC declined to comment on specific implications of the new rules, but did not deny the policy.