Monday, 19 April 2010

Georgian gay rights activist challenges local journalist before Media Council

Well done, Paata!! Should be an example for others in the region, Even if we may have reasonable doubts re possible outcomes, good to see the system got challenged by local activist.

Queerty, citing The Georgian Times (below), posted a brief reflection of the case entitled "The Georgian Journalist Accused of Not Challenging a Guest's Homophobia". Interestingly, this US based popular gay website comments: "Imagine if the United States had similar journalism ethics provisions; CNN would be buried in paperwork."

*via The Georgian Times

Gay Lobbyist Sues Journalist at Media Council

Paata Sabelashvili, President of the Inclusive Foundation, has filed a complaint at the Media Council stating that Kavkasia TV journalist Aleko Elisashvili has encouraged homophobic behaviour. This will be the second case the Media Council has considered, but the first related to gay rights in a conservative-minded country.

Paata Sabelashvili sounded alarm bells on Facebook following the Barrier programme broadcast by Kavkazia on March 9. The programme focused on the visits of Georgian opposition figures to Moscow and featured as guests the Republican Party’s Tina Khidasheli, member of former PM Zurab Noghaideli’s party Petre Mamradze, the National Forum’s Gubaz Sanikidze and Malkhaz Gulashvili, owner of The Georgian Times Media Holding and Head of the Georgia-Russia Public Commission.

Malkhaz Gulashvili apparently went beyond just talking about Georgia-Russia relations during the debates. He touched on Church and state relations, criticised the Government for what he called its ‘pseudo-liberal’ values and said that that there is an "unruly propaganda for profanity, for instance homosexuals and lesbians” in Georgia.

Aleko Elisashvili, the host of the programme, interrupted Gulashvili and asked him to let them (homosexuals) alone, which induced giggles in the studio guests, and the discussion shifted back to politics. The debate weaved back to the issues of homosexuality and same sex marriage later but the anchor did not comment this time, giving other guests the opportunity to express opinions. This is where his fault lay, according to Sabelashvili.

Paata Sabelashvili says that by his inaction the journalist violated Article 7 of the journalist’s charter which states: “The journalist should understand the threat of the media encouraging discrimination. Therefore, he/she should do everything possible to avoid discrimination towards any persons on the grounds of race, sex, sexual orientation, language, religion, political and other viewpoints, national or social origin or any other grounds.”

In a post he released on Facebook the next day Paata Sabelashvili vented his anger, stating that he would seek to hold Aleko Elisashvili accountable to the Media Ethics Council. “He [Aleko Elisashvili] violated this Article [7] when he did not only prevent Gulashvili and others giggling about homosexual citizens but even joined them in doing so,” he said. The complaint has been submitted and the Media Ethics Council is now requesting a written explanation from Aleko Elisashvili.

In a phone interview with GT Aleko Elisashvili said he is prepared to take responsibility for his work but the complaint is ill-argumented. Elisashvili does not think that he has violated the article as he allowed the guests to counter Gulashvili during the debates. "Gulashvili expressed his opinion, irrespective of whether I agree with it or not, and he has the right to do it as a citizen," he told us.

Elisashvili said that he trusts the Media Ethics Council and is ready to face its decision whatever it will be. Paata Sabelashvili did not respond to our email queries.

Malkhaz Gulashvili has become the target of criticism from so-called libertarian groups since he founded the Public Orthodox Movement on March 25 this year. This organisation, which the founders say counts 5,000 members, aims to advocate for the rights of Orthodox Christians, promote Christian values in society and preserve an authentic Georgian consciousness. Among other commitments, members of the movement have pledged that they will try to counter the propaganda of profanity and homosexuality and now allow gay parades to be conducted, among other things.

151 journalists have signed Charter of Journalism Ethics, a kind of self-regulatory mechanism for journalists. The Imedi fake invasion video was the first case which the Media Council discussed. It concluded that programme anchor Natia Koberidze had violated Article 1 of the Charter.

The Media Council has the right to discuss whether to judge the case in the first place and then determine, if so, whether a Charter Member journalist has violated its principles. There are no sanctions it can take.

“This is quite a difficult case and members of the council are now consulting foreign colleagues, in the German Media Council and a similar organisation in Holland. It will be some time until they are ready to hold the session,” Ia Antadze, the founder of the Media Council, told GT.

By Ketevan Khachidze


Becca said...

Love it!

Are you a fan of the UK QAF or US version?

I have seen bits and peices of the UK version but I prefer US(I must be bias)


I've started a GBLTQA blog myself(I was hoping it would be an advice peice but it has turned into just my thoughts thus far).

artmika said...

Many thanks Becca, and congrats re your blog.

As to the QAF, I like both versions, but I am more of a fan of the UK QOF ;)

Paco said...

Mika I have a good and fresh news for you!

Today there was a hearing at media ethics charter council, where I and Aleko had to defend our arguments. I was wuestioned in a way that when I left I expected negative decision. I could not stay when he was questioned though. But guess what? They announced that journalist has violated the charter! Decision was supported by 7 members vs 1. I am so happy

artmika said...

WOW. Well done, Paco, and thanks for sharing. At last, good news, indeed.