Australian journalists now have new guidance for reporting on sexual orientation and gender identity.
In a Nov. 8 press release, the Australian Press Council revealed the new guidelines, which the council said required 12 months of research, round-tables, and work. The council noted the guidelines are not “binding,” but simply “guidance” for reporters, news outlets and press council staff.
“Persons with diverse sexual orientation, gender identity, and sex characteristics should be treated with respect,” the guidance states. “This Advisory Guideline aims to promote informed reporting on, and increased understanding of, persons with diverse sexual orientation, gender identity and sex characteristics — and on issues relating to those persons — as well as provide guidance on several of the Council’s General Principles and Privacy Principles. It therefore aims to assist journalists and publications to improve standards of reporting so as not to exacerbate, even inadvertently, particular concerns faced by such persons.”
Guidance advises journalists include infromation about sexual orientation, gender identity and sex characteristics if it is in the public interest or relevant to reporting. As examples, the press council said if a person tells a news outlet they are OK with that information being shared it may be relevant, but if it’s just information a news outlet has about a person, like a person accused of crime it may not be relevant.
“Salacious, overly prominent, and irrelevant references to a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity, sex characteristics (including that a person was born with variations of sex characteristics) — particularly in headlines — can cause or contribute to prejudice especially when those attributes are linked to alleged or actual criminal activity,” the guidance says.
The guidance also advises journalists are accurate, and avoid offense or prejudicial information or comments. For example, the council advises journalists do not use trans or gender diverse peoples’ former names or photos, and do “not refer to a person as “currently identifying” as bisexual as this can suggest that a person is going through a ‘phase’, reinforcing the misconception that bisexuality is not a real part of their identity.”
The guidance also includes tips for journalists for interviewing and how to identify or ask questions.
iMediaEthics has written to the press council for more information.