Gregory Campbell MP criticised the BBC for being at its “BLM worst” when watching the Gospel programme “Songs of Praise”.
Campbell took to social media to decry the fact the judges, presenter and five semi-finalists on “Songs of Praise” were all of a black ethnicity.
The East Derry MP was shot down by party leader Arlene Foster however, as she insisted the DUP are “absolutely committed” to racial equality.
“It is not a sentiment that I identify with, as someone who actually does enjoy Songs of Praise every Sunday and the diversity that is exhibited thereupon,” Foster told the Assembly.
“We are totally, absolutely committed to racial equality.”
Campbell had written on Facebook that he could not imagine the BBC allowing an all-white line-up on Songs of Praise.
“There were five singers, all of them black. There were three judges all of them black and one presenter who was incidentally, yes black,” he wrote.
“The singers were all very good but can you imagine an all white line up with an all white jury and presented by a white person? No I can’t either.”
Earlier today he told BBC Radio Ulster he would not be apologising as the channel had allegedly failed to adhere to its own inclusion policies, adding “there wasn’t much diversity or inclusion on that edition of Songs of Praise.”
“If I have caused offence by stating the obvious, by stating something that is irrefutable – that the BBC are committed to reflecting the diversity of the UK and they didn’t on that occasion, and no-one can say that they did – why would I apologise for something that’s correct and accurate?” he asked.
“I’m an anti-racist. Do I apologise for that? No. I stand with the black footballer [Nottingham Forest striker Lyle Taylor] who refused to take the knee. Do I apologise for that? No I don’t.”
Northern Ireland’s justice minister Naomi Long said Campbell’s comments were “racist” and “bizarre”.
“I think they were not only reprehensible and racist, but I think that they were also quite bizarre,” she insisted.
“Anyone who has any understanding of the history of gospel music will be aware that it comes from the trials and tribulations of those who were often sent to the US as slaves, and therefore it is a tradition of singing, a tradition of music that has grown up from that background, and to suggest that there was anything at all to do with BLM or any other kind of positive discrimination in the fact that the best singers were through to the competition, and those most experienced were judging it, I think is a mistake.
“The test will really be how parties individually deal with those issues within their own ranks.
“We have a job of work to do in terms of showing leadership within our own organisation, within our own ranks, in terms of what is acceptable and what is not acceptable.
“Of course people have the right to freedom of speech, but it doesn’t come free of responsibility and indeed consequences.”
The North West Migrants Forum said Campbell needs to apologise to the black and minority ethnic community in Northern Ireland.
“He needs to withdraw his ignorant and insulting post and make a full public apology to the black and minority ethnic community of his constituency and beyond,” the group claimed.