Homophobia and Transphobia in UK media stirs up debate 

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Homophobia and transphobia have been trending recently in British media and The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) is hosting a debate on the issue.

Prejudices are everywhere, transgender editor of META magazine, Paris Lees explained, and it would be hard to find an individual who is prejudice-free.

“We all have the potential to let prejudiced thoughts sneak in and I don’t know many people who aren’t prejudiced about something,” Lees said in an interview with PinkNews.

Lees was the first trans woman to present on BBC Radio 1’s, where she led a discussion about prejudices known as “The Hate Debate.”

This forum was meant to provide a platform to bring prejudice to the forefront of conversation. The Hate Debate, with a no sugar-coating philosophy, created an open atmosphere that encouraged honest conversation to provoke truth behind prejudice. The idea was to understand where prejudices come from and then to challenge them.

In a world where power, privilege, and prejudices are dominant control forces, the media is a huge player when it comes to reinforcing pre-conceived notions. In the UK, homophobia, as well as transphobia, have surfaced in the media on numerous occasions.

Over 200,000 signatures were collected on a petition requesting that the Daily Mail call out columnist Richard Littlejohn for writing a negative article about a transgender teacher.

Striking a similar offense, a writer for the Observer newspaper, Julie Burchill, wrote a scathing article which bashed the transgender community. Editor of the Observer, John Mulholland, apologized and withdrew the publication of this transphobic article. However, he defended his newspaper by explaining that the paper, “…prides itself on ventilating difficult debates and airing challenging views,” reported PinkNews.

Still, prejudices and similarly hateful comments have been released into the national conversation, and have shaken the UK prompting discussion and debates.

The NUJ debate on homophobia and transphobia in the media will take place on Tuesday, April 16 at 6:30pm at NUJ’s headquarters in the London Borough of Camden.  A slideshow, 30 years of LGBT Protest and Dissent, will accompany the debate, which will stand as a documentation of LGBT movements and protests over the decades.

Additionally, Trans Media Watch representative, Helen Belcher, Human Rights campaigner, Peter Tatchell, and NUJ General Secretary, Michelle Stanistreet, will sit on a panel on the night of the debate.

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