Sunday, 30 October 2011

Coverage of sexual orientation/gender issues in Georgia media: homophobia and Armenophobia side-by-side (part 1)

Read also: Internews Georgia - Minorities in Georgian Press (quarterly report): homophobia and Armenophobia side-by-side (part 2)


Media Development Foundation publishes new results of monitoring conducted under Media Monitoring - for Accountable and Professional Media project (the project is funded by Open Society Georgia Foundation). Under the project Expert Eka Aghdgomelashvili conducted monitoring of coverage of sexual orientation/gender issues in Georgian media from May 1, 2011 till June 1, 2011. The monitoring results indicate that homophobic expressions and insulting epithets are actively used in political discourse.

The following media outlets were selected for the monitoring:

Resonance - (public-political newspaper. Published five times a week);
24 Saati - (daily public-political newspaper);
Alia - (public-political newspaper. Published twice a week);
Kronika - (weekly public-political newspaper);
Asaval-Dasavali (weekly public-political newspaper);
Kviris Palitra - (weekly public-political newspaper).

Tabula (published once a week, it has its own website);
Tbiliselebi (published once a week, it has its own website).
The blogs published on the newspapers' and magazines' websites were also taken into account. The monitoring results also include 1 radio story aired by Radio Liberty and 1 article published by Netgazeti (online news source), which were dedicated to International Day against Homophobia - May 17.

In Total 36 articles and news stories (20 newspaper articles, 11 magazine articles) as well as 1 online news source and 1 radio interview have been analyzed.

The total number of articles connected with the research topic was 38. The negative attitudes expressed in the articles are much more (24) than positive attitudes (5) and neutral attitudes (9).

This state of affairs is significantly impacted by the fact that homophobic expressions and insulting epithets are actively used in political discourse.

During the monitoring period it was discovered that:

The biggest number of articles concerning the above-mentioned topics was published by Tbiliselebi magazine as it pays a lot of attention to the above-mentioned topics. 91% of researched materials published by Tbiliselebi magazine concerned foreign showbiz stars belonging to LGBT group. When discussing these stars the journalists usually point out their sexual orientation whether or not this is required by the context of the article.

Some words that are used for denoting sexual orientation/gender identity in media (like "gay", "lesbian", "bisexual", "transsexual", "homosexual", "LGBT", "sexual orientation") do not have negative connotations per se, but sometimes they are still used in a negative context.

Tbiliselebi magazine also uses terms like gay, lesbian, bisexual in a neutral context; however, that magazine frequently uses the following word expression: "nontraditional sexual orientation", which in itself is nonsense - sexual orientation cannot be either "traditional" or "nontraditional".

Insulting words (like "faggot", "sodomite", "queer" etc.) are most often used in Kronika (13), Alia (11) and Asaval-Dasavali newspapers. As a rule, social phobias become stronger during political, economic or social crises when "a visible enemy image" is needed. Kronika, Alia and Asaval-Dasavali newspapers are traditional leaders as far as intensity of negative expressions and insulting context of expressing LGBT identity are concerned (taking into consideration the results of previous surveys). These newspapers are generally known for the frequent use of hate speech not only against sexual but other minorities as well.

Labeling political opponents as homosexuals, accusing them of spreading homosexual propaganda etc. are used for enhancing the effect of building an "alien" image of the government and on the other hand these methods are used for generalizing the dangers coming from the "alien", which threaten the whole country.

The articles studied and analyzed during the monitoring process are equally full of Armenophobia and homophobia. This symbiosis was caused by the xenophobic opinions expressed by Robert Sturua, which were followed by heated debates in media and social networks.

Term "liberast" (a mix of two words: "liberal" and "pederast") is one more example of introduction of homophobia in public political discourse.

Journalists often misuse and mix terms, which denote gender identity, sexual orientation and sexual behavior.

Detailed results of the monitoring can be viewed in the full version of the monitoring results.

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