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Following an event at the Sheffield Arena featuring an anti-gay US evangelical Christian, local group Sheffield Against Hate held a demo outside the venue. The group’s opposition to the event resulted in their representative being invited on to BBC Radio Sheffield to discuss the serious – and sometimes fatal – consequences of homophobia, biphobia and transphobia.

When Sheffield Against Hate’s Vicky Laylor mentioned a 15-year-old who was suicidal having been subjected to homophobic hate speech, host Toby Foster’s response was “So what?”.

Heather Paterson, CEO of local LGBTQ+ charity SAYiT told Sheffield magazine Now Then, “We have a mental health crisis in this country and LGBTQ+ people in particular are disproportionately represented in that, so it’s important to consider the platform you have and the impact you could have on those listening / reading.”

Anti-LGBT hate crimes in Sheffield have soared, almost doubling between 2018 and 2021.

Heather Paterson has since spoken privately to BBC Radio Sheffield, who agreed with her that Foster had crossed a line and assured her that Foster, and the station, would apologise. The show in question was not available on BBC Sounds or the BBC website.

A BBC spokesperson told Now Then magazine: “It’s right we have conversations about all issues no matter how sensitive. However this interview fell below the high standards expected of us and we’re sorry for that.”

This report is based on an article originally published by Now Then magazine.

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