The Australian Daily Telegraph wrongly reported that a new guidebook for the Australian Defence Force instructed soldiers not to use the pronouns “him” or “her” because it was gender bullying.
But that was wrong. The guide didn’t actually say what the Telegraph claimed in the headline of its story about the guidebook. Instead, the guidebook said it would be “unacceptable” to intentionally misgender people with the wrong pronoun. Because of that, the Australian Press Council ruled against the Telegraph for inaccuracy and failing to correct.
The Aug. 2018 Telegraph article was headlined in print “Army drops the ‘H’ bomb: Soldiers told words like ‘him’ or ‘her’ can be gender bullying'” and “Identity goes MIA in gender wars.” Online, the article was “Australian Defensc Force guide bans soldiers from saying ‘him’ or ‘her’ to avoid LGBTI offence.'”
The article itself was permissible, the press council ruled. It was the headline that was problematic. “The Council considered that the headline of the online article was likely to lead readers to believe that the ADFA had banned the use of ‘him’, ‘her’ or ‘they’ entirely rather than stating that the deliberate use of inappropriate pronouns will amount to unacceptable behaviour,” the press council ruled.
Using the word “banned” was also a problem, the press council ruled.
iMediaEthics has contacted both the Australian Defence Forces and the Telegraph for more information.