Gay people anxious about victimisation due to media portrayals, say Stonewall Cymru

Half of lesbian and gay people in Wales fear homophobic victimisation due to their portrayal in the media, reveals the latest report by Stonewall Cymru, which examines the coverage of lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) people in the Wales media.

The LookOut media report quotes findings from Stonewall Cymru's Counted In survey which found:

  • 60% of lesbian, gay and bisexual people are offended by portrayals of gay people on TV
  • 63% are offended by articles in the print media
  • 65% are offended by the lack of positive portrayals of gay life across all media
  • 49% are anxious about homophobic victimisation due to media portrayals

Liz Morgan, Director of Stonewall Cymru. Says: "We are deeply concerned that a high number of lesbian and gay people in Wales fear homophobic abuse because of negative portrayals of gay life and gay issues in the Wales media.

"The media in Wales plays a huge part in influencing public opinion towards the lesbian and gay community. It's all too easy to dismiss homophobic language as harmless banter or clichéd stereotypes as inoffensive fun, but in reality it is hurtful and can encourage victimisation of lesbian and gay people."

The LookOut media report is the culmination of a 3 year media project, funded by Comic Relief, and was set up to monitor the media in Wales and respond to homophobic or negative reporting of lesbian, gay and bisexual people. The project also sought to promote positive gay related news stories.

During the length of the project lesbian and gay people were asked to become 'media monitors' and send in examples of articles, news reports and television programmes that addressed gay issues. They were then asked to comment on why these examples were a positive or negative portrayal.

The most common complaints were: the use of the word 'gay' by high-profile celebrities as a term of abuse ("you're so gay"), offensive stereotypes and the lack of positive lesbian or gay role models on TV. Programmes such BBC's Life on Mars, Top Gear and Radio One's The Chris Moyles Show drew criticism from Wales' gay community because of their use of anti-gay language. Many people were concerned about the impact this has on impressionable young people.

Liz Morgan added, "We know from our work in education that anti-gay language is the most common form of homophobic bullying in schools. There is a strong link between the casual use of homophobic language on radio and TV programmes and the widespread use of the same terms to bullying children in schools.

"By simply ensuring that media output is free from anti-gay jibes, the media in Wales can play a major part in transforming the lives of young lesbian and gay pupils who are too scared to go to school for fear of verbal or physical attacks."  

The report also suggests that Network television has much to learn from regional programme makers in Wales in terms of realistic gay characters in drama serials. BBC One Wales' drama Belonging, Welsh Language series Caerdydd,  S4C soap opera Pobol y Cwm and, of course Doctor Who and Torchwood, were praised for their realistic gay storylines and visible gay characters.

"We're proud that Wales is leading the way with realistic, visible lesbian and gay characters on television." says Liz Morgan. "But it seems the good work that is happening in Wales is being undermined by poor representation on network television and homophobic jibes made by high profile celebrities, and that explains why so many gay people are anxious about the impact negative media portrayals have on their every day lives."

Click here to download the Look Out report
Click here for more information about Look Out
Click here for Look Out project resources for journalists
Click here for Look Out project resources for LGB people


(not displayed)

(will appear on this page)

(will appear on this page)
 

E-newsletter signup


Media
enquiries


During office hours please call:
029 20 237744

If you have an urgent media enquiry outside office hours please call 07779 359 704

If you are a journalist and wish to be added to Stonewall Cymru's media contacts list, please contact cymru@
stonewallcymru.org.uk