Gay People Not Visible Enough in World Media

Published: 24 March 2014

Region: Worldwide

MediaTenor_pic“Don’t forget us!” This was  the message of Russian gay activists to the Western media. They worry about the decrease in media coverage of LGBT community and its issues after the Olympic Games in Sochi.

Media was focused on the LGBT issues during Olympic Games so much  the American network NBC for example, has produced 13 times more coverage on Russian anti-Gay law than attacks in Syria  in that period. But still, as the Media Tenor research has proved, LGBT coverage hasn’t been visible above the awareness threshold, with the only exception being the media in the US.

According to this research, Russia, Uganda and US are the three countries which shared the biggest part of LGBT media coverage. Only in the US however, media reports were mainly positive when it comes to the LGBT community and related topics. Discrimination against gay community is the most reported topic of media reports regarding LGBT issues whereas other topics like the same-sex marriage seems to start losing media’s attention.

“The divisive marriage debate has become seemingly uninteresting to the news media,” Racheline Maltese, research coordinator, said adding that “severe legal sanctions in other countries and the U.S. fight over ‘religious freedom’ bills that would allow businesses and public servants to refuse service to LGBT individuals have received stronger visibility due to the intensity of the rhetoric on both sides of the issue.”

Other topics identified are the violence against LGBT members and judicial system. As it is expected, biggest share of the coverage of the different topics is mainly negative or neutral. While it is interesting also to note that according to the analysis of more than 600.000 international TV reports LGBT-related topics are far more visible than the group itself.

An important moment for the media covering LGBT community was the “coming out” of one of the most prominent football players, Thomas Hitzlsperger. He took by surprise his fans revealing his gay identity publicly in the German newspaper Die Zeit. “I’m coming out about my homosexuality because I want to move the discussion about homosexuality among professional sportspeople forwards,” he said. After this announcement, Hitzlsperger was the most reported person regarding LGBT news agenda, followed by Vladimir Putin and Janice Brewer, Arizona’s State Governor.

Most of the coverage of Hitzlsperger, says Media Tenor report, was positive. It has also led to the greater debate on whether gay players would be accepted by soccer leagues and American sporting organizations.

Media Tenor’s research also found higher levels of volatility regarding the image of LGBT people as a group while the protagonists of the respected stories are not usually members of LGBT community but political figures or nations.