LebMASH was represented by Ramy Shukr at the “Covering LGBT issues in the Lebanese media” workshop hosted by SKeyes Center for Media and Cultural Freedom, in partnership with the Thomson Foundation and Maharat Foundation on Tuesday November 11, 2014 at L’Appartement, Achrafieh, along with representatives of different organizations, including the Arab Foundation for Freedoms and Equality, Helem, Legal Agenda, LBCI, NOW Lebanon, and L’Orient Le Jour.
The workshop started with a presentation of the findings of the monitoring report on the coverage of LGBT issues in the Lebanese media (prepared by Maharat Foundation) followed by training sessions led by Susan Caro, a prominent diversity expert who has worked with the BBC and other major British media outlets and production houses.
It was very interesting to see that most of the coverage was when something negative happens (arresting people for engaging in sexual acts in cinemas or hammams, etc) and there was very little or no coverage on the daily struggles of LGBT people. Said Dr. Shukr. Some media institutions had a positive approach regarding LGBT issues (LBCI/NOW Lebanon) while others had a very negative approach (MTV Lebanon, etc).
Susan Caro discussed a study done by the BBC on how the BBC is portraying LGB individuals in their coverage. We stressed on the word portrayal and how important it is. She also raised a question of why we need to even mention the sex lives of LGB individuals in our media coverage.
There was then a discussion between the media representatives and the NGOs regarding the challenges and problems we face. The media people said that there should be more collaboration between them and the NGOs, since they could help the organizations publicize social justice issues if they receive the information. Helem raised a concern about how some journalists do not respect the confidentiality requests some interviewees impose and thus causing damage. Media representatives also stressed that the NGOs should release statements in the same day when anything significant regarding sexual rights happens in the country regarding LGBT issues so that the NGOs’ approaches could be integrated into the mainstream media’s coverage.
Here is LBCI report covering the event: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r2oFCx9r7HI