Public Protest against Homophobic TV9 Reports
WHERE: TV9 Office,
21 Bhai Vir Singh Marg,
Near Gole Market, New Delhi
WHEN: 5pm, Monday, 28thFebruary, 2011
We, as concerned citizens, members of the queer community, and other human rights activists, are deeply disturbed by TV9 Telugu channel’s 22nd Feb 2011 broadcast that violated the basic rights and dignity of the LGBTQI community. Using private pictures, hidden-camera footage, and phone conversations, this broadcast made public the identities of some gay men without their consent. This was grossly invasive, unethical and violated the basic regulations of the National Broadcasting Association. Furthermore, News9, the TV9 English news channel in Bangalore, has continued to telecast a slightly edited version even after numerous protests against this news story.
TV9 conducted a ‘sting operation’ where they publicly named users of a social networking site and displayed their private photographs. They also recorded, and subsequently aired, phone-calls with these men in which their investigator asked leading questions relating to the private sexual preferences of the men. This broadcast has deeply and adversely impacted the lives of these individuals as well as all those who use such social networking sites as one of the few spaces available to the queer community to safely meet one another. This report is the latest in a series of incidents where the media has acted unethically in its coverage of sexuality. The most recent similar incident was the “sting” at Aligarh Muslim University that led to the death of Dr Ramachandra Siras.
This broadcast is in violation of protocols that the channel has set for itself and also in serious violation of the code of ethics set by the News Broadcasters Association. Some of these violations include targeting a community by propagating and reinforcing homophobic attitudes which cause stigmatization and which might lead to acts of violence against that community.
The people in charge of making decisions as part of TV9 should realise the repercussions of their unethical actions being faced by the members of the queer community – especially those whose identities have been made public. These repercussions are severe: violence from their families, discrimination at workplaces, and perpetuation of the idea that fear should define the everyday lives of queer people in India. The decision to talk about one’s sexuality should rest completely with the person concerned and no one else. Nobody has the right to make the sexual orientation of someone else public knowledge. Sensationalising the private lives and choices of any person or community for public viewership and titillation on a public medium is a matter which deserves deep censure.
The queer movement has received strong support from many media houses working in almost every Indian language in our fight for our rights and in the campaign against Sec 377. We urge our friends in the media to join us in protesting the unethical actions of TV9 and establish beyond any further doubt that the media in this country will stand by the LGBTQI community as the struggle for dignity and rights continues.
· That TV9 refrain from negative and homophobic portrayals of the queer and other marginalized communities.
· That the replaying of the footage, raw, unedited, and unused, be stopped immediately
· That a public apology be aired on the television channels concerned for these violations of the basic rights of the persons involved and the queer community at large.
We also urge fellow members of the queer community and our allies not to be intimidated by these reports. This protest is also to claim the spaces that are ours and state that violations of our dignity and rights will not be tolerated. We join similar protests in Bangalore, Hyderabad and Mumbai.