Thursday, August 19, 2010

British Council holds party with dodgy radio station

The British Council is a great thing, and supporting culture around the world is a noble endeavour.

It's just a pity they can't be more careful, though: Unzipped reports they've been supporting Radio Van:

The British Council Armenia and Radio Van are happy to announce the launch of The Selector radio programme in Armenia. We are having a big party to mark this occasion and you are invited!
Radio Van? Unzipped has written of them before:
Apparently, ladies and gentlemen, the head of Radio Van - Shushanik - was a closeted homophobe who comes out with blogging. She could not stand that her beloved Spain has transformed into a society of free minded people with laws that give gay men and women equal rights similar to heterosexuals, including that of marriage.

Back home in Yerevan, she started seeing gays everywhere - in cafes, streets, airports... Oh, but she forgot to look at her immediate surrounding. She could have been ‘pleasantly’ surprised.

Shushanik got so carried away by hate that she “absolutely agree” - in determination to exterminate gays - with an Armenian neo-nazi who uses swastika as his livejournal userpic. This is perhaps one of the most disgraceful exchange of comments I have ever seen in Armenian media. On one side is a neo-nazi, on the other side - head of radio station saying ‘’I absolutely agree with you” to a... neo-nazi.
The British Council's response when challenged by Unzipped? It missed the point a little, and patted him on the head:
“The British Council values Equality and Diversity and aims to establish cooperation with individuals and organisations representing the diversity of Armenia and the world. We also respect the freedom of expression and the diversity of views, at the same time we always do our best to promote our values of Equality and Diversity among our partners and beneficiaries and to ensure that no discrimination occurs in the framework of our partnership initiatives and all the project stakeholders are treated with respect. In regard to this particular project, we would like to stress that this partnership has its history since 2003 when The Selector was being broadcast by RadioVan. Moreover this is a true non-commercial partnership thanks to which it has been possible to revive the Selector in Armenia and bring our audiences the best of British music as we believe that Art is one of the most powerful media for establishing intercultural dialogue and promoting positive social change. We do hope that you will enjoy this initiative and that it will help us strengthen the links between Armenia and the UK."
You'd hope the correct response to 'why are you co-hosting a party with a radio station whose management thinks executing gay people is a good idea' would have been something other than 'hey, we've been doing the show since 2003, enjoy the show'.

Hugely disappointing. The Selector is a great programme and the kind of thing the British Council should be doing. It should just take a bit more care who it partners with.