LGB&T groups concern over Daily Mail’s involvement in lottery award

Publish Date: 11/10/2011

Gay and trans groups have welcomed the Silver Dreams Fund in support of older people, but have written to the Big Lottery Fund (BLF) to raise their concerns over the Daily Mail’s involvement; particularly the paper’s role on the awards panel in light of the their “homophobic and transphobic editorial policy”.

Both the Lesbian & Gay Foundation and The LGBT Consortium have written to the Big Lottery Fund to raise their concerns over the Daily Mail’s involvement in BLF’s Silver Dreams Fund – which will invest £110m in support of older people.

Despite diversity within the Daily Mail’s editorial team and across its readership, the Daily Mail (online and in print) has pursued a homophobic and transphobic editorial policy.

A member of the Mail’s editorial team and Daily Mail readers will sit on the award panel, a move which has caused concern amongst gay rights groups.

This concern stems from a number of homophobic and transphobic articles appearing in the paper and similar comments on readers’ message boards.

Journalists who have been widely accused of homophobia are employed by the paper – such as  Melanie Phillips and Jan Moir.

Phillips earlier this year attacked recommendations that schools should be asked to help children understand lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans issues.

While Moir famously found herself subject to a record amount of complaints to the Press Complaints Commission, after her homophobic article on the death of gay singer Stephen Gately.

Worryingly, the paper have also published a number of articles criticising The Big Lottery Fund for awarding money to LGB&T specific programmes referring to them as “controversial” and “unnecessary”.

In October 2008 they published a piece criticising BLF’s decision to award lottery money to the LGF’s ‘Part of the Picture’ drugs and alcohol research project.

The groups have also highlighted a lack of moderation of the papers openly and virulently homophobic and transphobic message boards.

Given this evidence , there is a concern that the Daily Mail’s involvement may put LGB&T specific projects at a disadvantage in the Fund.

LGB&T older people face the same challenges as the rest of the population, but many face increased isolation and discrimination.

Stonewall’s recent research into lesbian, gay and bisexual people in later life highlights that less than a quarter of LGB people over 55 see their biological family members at least once a week, compared with more than half of heterosexual people.

Also, 1 in 4 lesbian, gay and bisexual people over 55 have experienced discrimination, hostility or poor treatment from trades people and other service providers because of their sexual orientation.

Chief Executive of the Lesbian & Gay Foundation, Paul Martin OBE said: “In recent years the Big Lottery Fund has provided key leadership in the funding sector.

We felt it was our responsibility to urge the Big Lottery Fund to reconsider its decision to partner with an organisation that continues to promote discrimination against already excluded sections of society.

These groups, as lottery players themselves, will be deeply disappointed that a new investment – that has the ability to reach many older people who face multiple discrimination issues - now risks further marginalising them by both association with the Daily Mail and the process of the partnership itself.”

The Big Lottery Fund and the Daily Mail are seeking to recruit three older people to participate in the advisory panel which will decide which projects are awarded funding through the fund.

Applicants to join the panel must be aged 50 or over, with personal experience of the issues and concerns facing older people. They must also be available for meetings in March next year. Reasonable travel and accommodation expenses will be paid.

Martin adds: “In the meantime, we urge people to apply for a place on the awards panel, not only to have your say, but to ensure the LGB&T communities are represented.”

Anyone interested in obtaining a short application form to sit on the panel should email: silverdreams@dailymail.co.uk. The closing date for completed applications will be 28th October 2011.