I’VE never subscribed to the idea that journalists need to be impartial and apolitical to produce good work. It’s a purely idealistic aim that disregards the fact that we all, myself included, hold shrouded biases, blind spots and political leanings that can never truly be excised from our writing, regardless of our intent.

If anything, I’d explicitly prefer that journalists were more open about their politics. It would give us the means to examine their writing through a more critical lens.

And while it’s something that is often overlooked now, the act of journalism itself is a political one. Irrespective of whether that is journalism that seeks to challenge power, or the kind of exploitative tabloid scribbling that works to uphold it, journalism aims to have an impact on our understanding of the world and, by extension, the decisions we make in it. There’s hardly been an election in Britain that The Sun hasn’t claimed to have won by some degree or another.

All of this isn’t to say that we shouldn’t strike for objectivity in how we report the news. A fundamental requirement of a functional democracy is the need for people to be presented with all the facts in order to make up their own minds.

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Yet, ironically, this fool’s quest for total impartiality has often been one of the biggest blocks to achieving it – and none better exemplify that misplaced zealotry for neutrality than the BBC.

This is hardly a groundbreaking accusation against the broadcaster. The corporation has a history of making poor editorial decisions in the name of hearing “both sides”, including platforming climate

change deniers as a credible opposition to the scientists who actually understand the ways in which human activity has led to global warming.

Good journalism isn’t about playing an elaborate game of “he said, she said”. It’s about finding the truth. Sometimes that will be a nuanced affair, where there is no definitive right answer, and sometimes it will be like discussions around climate change, where there most certainly is.

The problem with so-called impartiality is that it implicitly positions itself in opposition to marginalised groups, where arguments for liberation and acceptance are pressed outwith the arena of human rights and dignity and instead are rebranded as just one opinion as equal and worthy as that of its opposition.

We saw this when the BBC platformed outright bigotry repeatedly on Question Time, and near single-handedly built the popularity of the likes of Nick Griffin and Nigel Farage.

The personal is political and none more so than identities that exist in opposition to the status quo.

It speaks to a broader indictment of assimilationist politics in general, this idea that the best way for people to live a life free from aggression isn’t for others to end their persecution of marginalised identities, but instead, for those marginalised identities to put on a suit and blend in; to shrink their identity down into an ill-fitting cube that slots into an acceptable square hole.

It doesn’t actually solve any of the stigmas that marginalised groups face, rather just gently papers over the lurking social conservatism below. But that, too, comes with certain requirements. Not just the suit, but a tie wound tightly around the throat as a reminder that speaking out comes with consequences.

Tolerance is not liberation, but an unsteady truce that keeps power in the hands of others. It is acceptance with conditions, easily dropped the moment the tie is loosened to take a real breath.

SO it isn’t a surprise to hear that the BBC is reportedly preparing to exit Stonewall’s Diversity Champions programme, a programme that works to ensure LGBTQ+ staff are properly accepted at work without question.

Up until the past few years, it was relatively safe to take steps to ensure that inclusion was part of any workplace environment, in part because it seemed like the advancement of the community’s rights were assured. However, with the ugly rise of transphobic and anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric in the UK, the effort to be inclusive has suddenly increased past slapping a rainbow flag on some merchandise once a year – and that’s a problem for organisations that shudder at the thought of being seen as “political”. The paper-thin veneer of tolerance begins to tear.

Last year the broadcaster

updated its guidelines to say that staff could not attend political events lest they be seen as anything

but impartial. This raised concerns that Pride marches would be included on the blacklist of forbidden occasions.

Director-general Tim Davie was on hand to clarify that of course staff could attend marches, on the condition that the events “are clearly celebratory or commemorative and do not compromise perceptions of their impartiality”.

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But Pride marches are not just celebratory. At their heart, they are a protest. In drawing this distinction, Davie has implicitly stated that queer staff are, by nature of their sexuality, under a degree of scrutiny that is not extended to their straight and cisgender colleagues – that their identities are political in a way the person at the desk next to them will never be, by dint of who they naturally love and exist as.

There is no such thing as “impartiality” when it comes to human rights. You either support them or you are working in opposition to them.

Choosing to back out of the scheme is not, as the broadcaster will say, a step to keeping itself neutral. It will be an active admission that it views transgender people, including staff within its own organisation, is too dangerous to the broadcaster’s image to treat equally and with dignity.

It is an act of moral cowardice, and I hope the BBC will see reason before it makes the same mistakes it has so many times before, in failing to recognise that not all opinions are worth the same.