POLITICS

Mhairi Black Defends Susan Calman Over Strictly Come Dancing Same-Sex Partner Row

MP said BBC bosses should include same-sex couples

19/09/2017 10:06 BST | Updated 19/09/2017 15:20 BST
PA Wire/PA Images
Mhairi Black has called for the BBC to include same-sex dance partners on Strictly Come Dancing

Mhairi Black has defended lesbian comedian Susan Calman over her decision to dance with a man on Strictly Come Dancing. 

The gay SNP MP, 23, called the attacks on Calman by LGBT activists “unfair” but said BBC bosses should include same-sex dance couples on the show.

Speaking to PinkNews, Black said: “People need to give Susan Calman a break – the criticism she’s faced has been really unfair.

“She’s always been a champion for equality, she’s a brilliant comedian, a great role model for young LGBTI people, and she has every right to enjoy herself on Strictly whoever she dances with.

“I’m rooting for her,” the re-elected MP said, adding, “she has my full support and I think she’s going to do great.”

However she called on BBC bosses to introduce same-sex dance partners soon – saying people should blame TV producers, not Calman.

“Of course, it’s 2017 and it’s about time big TV programmes are fully inclusive of LGBTI people.

PA Wire/PA Images
Susan Calman will be dancing with Kevin Clifton

“That includes having same-sex dance partners on Strictly – but the onus is on the programme makers not individual contestants.

“It’s not a question of being PC or tokenistic – and it’s not just Strictly or the BBC – we have to ask ourselves why same-sex couples and LGBTI people still aren’t being properly included and represented on some of these programmes in the first place.

“Being inclusive should be the norm – TV should reflect and speak to the full diversity of society, and doing that helps open minds and change attitudes.”

The BBC has said there are no plans to introduce same-sex partners on this year’s Strictly. 

Judge Craig Revel Horwood has hinted that decision could be reviewed next year. 

Calman chose to dance with a man despite considering the prospect of dancing with a woman, saying: “I wanted to dance with a man. I am not being held hostage by the BBC. I’m still well gay and proud of it.”

Calman said she had “worked tirelessly for LGBT equality” her whole life but “right now I would like to dance and bring entertainment to people by dancing on a Saturday night”.

She added: “I think politically, there’s nothing more powerful than having an openly gay woman on the biggest show on television, whose wife’s on the front row, doing what she wants to do.”

The BBC said: “Strictly has chosen the traditional format of mixed-sex couples and at the moment we have no plans to introduce same-sex couples in the competition.”