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Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Report: How Senegalese media reports gay issues

The Panos Institute West Africa in collaboration with the SAHARA Programme (Social Aspects of HIV/AIDS & Health Research Alliance) presented a study on how the Senegalese media reports on LGBTI issues at the 6th IAS Conference in Rome 20 July.

The report's summary said:
An analysis of the print media during critical periods that witnessed the rise of homophobia in 2008-2009 highlighted the production of an image of homosexuality that was based on the following ideas:
  • Homosexuality is portrayed as a new import from the West, supported by dark lobbying groups. 
  • The image of homosexuality portrayed by the media is one of an existential threat against society and its sacred foundations 
  • Resorting to violence against homosexuals is made legitimate by self-defence and "moral purification"
  • Homosexuality is illustrated in association with the fear of AIDS.
The analysis of the means of production of the media's outlook indicates that several print media newspapers handled homosexuality with prejudice. The analysis of contents gives rise to several hypotheses:
  • The print media reproduced representations related to ignorance of the complexity of the stakes relating to human rights and HIV/AIDS (including a limited knowledge of social science research)
  • The media ignored the principles and rules related to the production of reliable information.
In the report, the main recommendations look at providing communication professionals with research results and scientific information that will enable them to understand the complexity of the issue of homosexuality in relation to the AIDS epidemic, the recognition of human rights, and the reinterpretation of concepts of tolerance and civil peace in dominant religious points of view.

The study suggests that debates be organised on media responsibility with regard to issues such as: the history and social construction of homosexuality in Senegal and in Africa, multiple views on religion and homosexuality, the situation of HIV among men who have sex with men (MSM), human rights, and the legal environment in relation to homosexuality. These workshops should be based on good preparatory work, particularly focusing on a literature review and a synopsis of social science research. This research should focus on the following issues: opinions, attitudes and knowledge on HIV; homosexuality and vulnerable groups; the effects of the media's handling of homosexuality; and changing the attitudes and behaviour of the general public and of media professionals in relation to violence against sexual minorities.
African Activist notes other examples of how African media has promoted prejudice:
African Activist suggests that media reporting may have led to the murder of David Kato in Uganda (who was a plaintiff in the landmark legal victory against the Rolling Stone tabloid newspaper).
    HT: African Activist
    How the Senegalese media reports on LGBTI issues
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