Reporting on persons with diverse sexual orientation, gender identity, and sex characteristics: advisory guideline

Mass media Media regulation News media Journalism LGBTI Australia

The Australian Press Council’s Standards of Practice, particularly the Statement of General Principles, provide the standards to which publications must adhere, and to which Council refers when considering complaints. These Standards and the Council’s Advisory Guidelines are important educational tools for publications and journalists. The Council’s Advisory Guidelines may be taken into account by a Council Adjudication Panel in deciding whether there has been a breach of the Council’s Statement of General Principles, but Advisory Guidelines are not binding Standards.

Many people engage with, and may be informed about, social, political and other issues by what they read in print and online media. There is a need to balance the freedom of the press to inform and examine issues against awareness of the harmful impact that reporting can have on individuals and communities, and that balancing exercise can be difficult. Most journalists and publications endeavour, in good faith, to engage in informed and accurate reporting on a wide range of issues and people. There are several areas and issues in respect of which the Press Council has, over time, issued Advisory Guidelines to promote better journalistic reporting and to assist publications to comply with the Press Council’s General Principles following concerns about some media coverage.

Persons with diverse sexual orientation, gender identity, and sex characteristics should be treated with respect. 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.

This Guideline has been informed by consultation with editors, journalists, peak community and health organisations, mental health specialists, persons with lived experience, police and academics. Adherence to this guideline will help safeguard against unfair reporting.

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