Iranti launches media reporting and reference guide on LGBTQIA+ issues

Iranti, in partnership with fraycollege, has started the Safety, Dignity and Freedom (SDF) project which documents the experiences of queer people and their interaction with the media.

This is to promote and educate on inclusive, accurate and respectful media coverage of LGBTQIA+ issues.

Iranti and partner organisations also launched a media guide that they call a significant reference tool for reporters to fairly and accurately cover queer persons in Southern Africa.

Iranti Director Jabulani Pereira launched the guide at a workshop held in Johannesburg, South Africa. The reference for media practitioners and news outlets includes a glossary of terms as well as tips to consider when interviewing queer persons and common errors made when reporting on queer people.

The workshop was attended by partners from Malawi, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Botswana and South Africa.

“Even when media has good intentions, we know that we have so much more to do when it comes to changing public mindset and this is often difficult when governments use media platforms to fuel hate against LGBTI+ persons,” said Pereira, who also said media still have more work to do in order to report fairly and accurately on queer persons.

Homosexuality is criminalised in 32 African countries. LGBTQIA+ people in the region still experience discrimination, harassment and hostility in many parts of everyday life; in public, at work and when accessing health care and other services. LGBTQIA+ activists argue that the poor media reporting on queer persons worsens the situation.

It is believed that media have a vast impact on public perceptions towards queer people and consequently may affect how they are treated. Despite this, the covering of queer issues in the region is often negative and uninformed. According to Pereira the coverage often misrepresents queer people by perpetuating unnecessary stereotypes.

According to the study, “Mainstream media outlets report disproportionately on gay men in relation to the rest of the LGBTI+ community, possibly attributable to the prevalence of sodomy laws that explicitly target men as well as the social norms geared primarily around this group”.

The launch is a culmination of Iranti’s efforts in 2019 to bring queer issues into the mainstream.

Iranti has run an SDF campaign over the last two years which is aimed at overseeing the creation of effective, informative, and transformative messaging in the region’s mainstream media to inform minds, change perceptions, and positively impact behaviours, in relation to stigma, violence, and discrimination.

The Safety, Dignity & Freedom media guide and research report can be downloaded below:

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