Source: “Gazeteciler İçin LGBTI haberciliği rehberi çıktı” (The LGBTI media reference guide is out), Bia News Source, July 9, 2014, http://www.bianet.org/bianet/medya/157064-gazeteciler-icin-lgbti-haberciligi-rehberi-cikti
The guide answers the question of what reporters need to pay attention to when covering issues related to sexual orientation and gender identity.
Kaos GL and Pink Life, Turkish LGBTI organizations, have compiled a practical media reference guide for journalists reporting on LGBTI issues.
The guide provides a framework for keeping in regard certain points when reporting on LGBTI related policies in Turkey. The guide offers rights based suggestions on topics regarding use of language and terminology in reporting news related to gender, violence and suicide, news sources, off the record statements, use of photography, and respecting privacy.
What should a reporter pay attention to?
The guide includes excerpts from news reports that include hate speech against the LGBTI community and explains the approach to reporting taken by the news portal of KaosGL.org and Kaos GL magazine.
- We defend the freedom of news, commentary and critique. However, we distinguish between the news, commentary and opinion regarding current events. An author can express their personal opinion on the reported issues only by signing their name under the article.
- The journalist reports news and refrains from commentary.
- We do not state agreement with anyone.
- We do not draw conclusions from any information.
- We do not homogenize people and events.
- We do not judge anyone.
- We do not exclude anyone.
The role of the media workers
The guide underlines the important role media workers play in spreading awareness of forms of discrimination related to gender, sexual orientation and gender identity across a wider base in society.
Below is a sample of suggestions from the guide to news coverage:
Gay man, lesbian woman vs. heterosexual man/woman?
References in news reports to individuals’ gender, sexual orientation and gender identity in contexts where these are irrelevant to the content of the news constitute discrimination. Just as we do not mark heterosexual and male individuals as heterosexual male; we should not be marking women, gays, bisexuals and trans individuals when such characterizations have no direct relevance to the news content.
Being gay is not a matter of “confession”
“They confessed” as in “They confessed they are gay” is one of the misused expressions that appears widely in the news media and in public. Being gay is not a crime nor a mistake, therefore it is not a matter of confession. The appropriate expression should be “they announced they are gay.”
“The transvestite whose real name is…”!
News reports use trans individuals’ names as they appear in their identity cards without their permission. Reporters must use the person’s chosen name and surname.
Gender transition, not gender change
Instead of gender change/correction surgery, use “gender transition surgery” or “gender reconstruction surgery.” Phrases like ‘change’ presume the assigned gender as their basis and contribute to the perception that trans individuals are less “woman” or “man” than how they feel and express. This aggravates the othering process.
Sexual orientation, not sexual preference
It is inaccurate to use the term “sexual preference” to describe homosexuality, bisexuality and transsexuality. Like heterosexuality, homosexuality and bisexuality are sexual orientations; transsexuality is about gender identity. The terms “sexual orientation” or “gender identity” must be used instead of “sexual preference“ in accordance with these definitions.
Avoid unnecessary innuendos
In reports relating to LGBTI people, there should be no references to derogatory slang in headlines or no reporting using such slang. It is important to avoid unnecessary references and innuendos such as “The ball is in the court for the LGBTI association court case” in order not to reproduce discrimination.