Arabic-language media regularly display anti-LGBTIQ bias, often using loaded words for sexual minorities that mean “faggots,” “sinners,” “immoral” and “devil worshippers.” A new project from OutRight Action International seeks to change that.
Jessica Stern, executive director of OutRight Action International, writes:
All around the world the use of homophobic and transphobic language in the media has perpetuated prejudice and lies about the LGBTIQ community. OutRight has worked with hundreds of journalists over the years to change this because we know that better coverage of LGBTIQ issues in the media will lead to more positive perceptions of LGBTIQ people in society.
I’m excited to tell you about our new media project aimed at creating positive impact on Arabic-language media in the Middle East and North Africa.
Over the past few months OutRight has been monitoring local and national newspapers, radio, TV channels, and social media with fearless partners from the region. We found overwhelming evidence of derogatory terminology, hate speech inspired by religious doctrine, medical misinformation, and legal fallacies being used to describe LGBTIQ people.
Some interesting findings of the report include;
- Out of 332 articles analyzed in the time period, 260 contained derogatory terms to describe LGBTIQ people
- Some common words used to describe LGBTIQ people basically mean “faggots” “sinners” “immoral” and “devil worshippers”
- 45% of the articles concerned incidents of arrest, detention or trials of LGBTIQ people.
- Less than 10 stories out of 332 articles reviewed were about violence against LGBTIQ people.
- Higher incidents of hate speech against LGBTIQ people were documented from online platforms than from print media.
Nazeeha Saeed, OutRight’s Arabic Media Coordinator, noted that not all of the coverage was negative, and said,
“While most of the reporting is very negative and even derogatory, there are a few noteworthy exceptions. For example, when media reported on singer Ricky Martin’s engagement to a Syrian boyfriend, the language was surprisingly neutral. I think the reason is that foreign musicians and artists are given more leeway in society – and so the reporting also becomes more accepting.”
This project has been possible thanks to an individual donor who believed so much in the idea that media can change hearts and minds that he funded the first phase of the project. OutRight is now in the process of developing a media training geared towards correcting common misunderstandings about LGBTIQ people among Arab journalists and promoting the use of more neutral terminology used by the United Nations to cover these issues.
The study and media training guide are geared at making media coverage of LGBTIQ communities in the Arab-speaking world more accurate and fair.
If you would like to personally receive a copy of the report please email Rashima Kwatra at [email protected]
- LGBTQ magazine publishes in Arabic, not without opposition (July 2016, 76crimes.com)
- Interview: Khalid Abdel-Hadi (April 2016, Cherwell)
- Finding LGBTI allies among Muslims, Catholics and more (June 2015, 76crimes.com)
- Remember the Muslims who aren’t anti-LGBTQ (October 2012, 76crimes.com)
- Not There Yet: Inclusion, Acceptance and Support for LGBTQ Muslims (Muslimah Media Watch)
- Queer Muslims Get Straight Respect (Huffington Post)