Report Finds Arabic Media Perpetuates Homophobia Transphobia in Region

OutRight Action International has launched a new report titled, ‘Arab Mass Media: A Monitoring Report Looking at Sexuality and Gender Identity in Arabic Media from 2014 to 2017.’ The report is available in both English and Arabic.

The report monitors widespread local and national newspapers in 14 countries in the Arab region, radio, TV channels, and social media platforms to assess the current language journalists use to talk about LGBTIQ people and if the coverage is positive, negative, or neutral.

The report finds that currently journalists in the region often use derogatory terms that perpetuate homophobia and transphobia and reflect a wider poor human rights culture in the region. The report highlights evidence of hate speech inspired by religious doctrine, medical misinformation, and legal fallacies being used to describe LGBTI people.

Jessica Stern, Executive Director of OutRight Action International commented,

All around the world the use of homophobic and transphobic language in the media has perpetuated prejudice and lies about the LGBTIQ community. We must work to sensitize the media and journalists in order to change negative public opinions about LGBTIQ issues and move towards respect, equality, and acceptance for all.

Some interesting findings of the report include;

  • Out of 332 articles analyzed in the time period, 260 contained derogatory terms to describe LGBTIQ people
  • Some common words used to describe LGBTQI people translate to mean “faggots” “sinners” “immoral” and “devil worshippers”
  • 45% of the articles concerned incidents of arrest, detention or trials of LGBTIQ people.
  • Less than 10 stories out of 332 articles reviewed centered on violence against LGBTIQ people.
  • Higher incidents of hate speech against LGBTIQ people were documented from online platforms than from print media.

Nazeeha Saeed, OutRight’s Arabic Media Coordinator, noted that not all of the coverage was negative and said,

While most of the reporting is very negative and even derogatory, there are a few noteworthy exceptions. For example, when media reported on singer Ricky Martin’s engagement to a Syrian boyfriend, the language was surprisingly neutral. I think the reason is that foreign musicians and artists are given more leeway in society, and so the reporting also becomes more accepting.”

OutRight has also developed a media training booklet geared towards correcting common misunderstandings about LGBTIQ people among Arab journalists to promote the use of more neutral terminology used by the United Nations to cover these issues. The training booklet is available in Arabic.


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