A homophobic Editorial: Professional negligence or genuine belief?
On the 29th of July 2010 I read a strange and badly written editorial that appeared in the Daily Mirror newspaper. To put it mildly, the editorial was a diatribe against the so-called recent trend of ‘persuading’ citizens to become gay. It demonstrated an appalling lack of good judgment to believe that anyone can be persuaded to change his or her sexual orientation. What offended me most was the editor’s charge that there is a hidden agenda by certain groups and individuals to ‘rope in a few dozens of unsuspecting leading personalities in society to their clubs.’ It almost sounded like medieval sorcery.
The outrageously homophobic slant of the Editor reflects an enduring insensitivity, bordering on outright violence towards homosexual identities and concerns in our society. Bizarrely, given the editorials published in the same newspaper in the recent past regarding Pride Week, one wonder’s why and to what end the Daily Mirror’s take on gay rights has changed in such a short space of time?
Though I am not homosexual in my sexual orientation, I do not believe in the pre-ordained sexuality proposed by the Daily Mirror editorial or the argument that homosexuality is somehow unnatural. Reflected in this revolting editorial is a rank fear of difference that reveals a great deal about our society. The Nazis did a good head job of constructing the Jews as the ‘other’. Today, the Israelis are doing a good head job of constructing the Palestinians as the ‘other’. Perhaps the only difference is that in Sri Lanka today, we are more careful about derogatory statements against ethnicity or religion than we are about defamatory statements on sexual orientation.
This Editorial did a great disservice to Sri Lankan women as well, implying that those who have suffered violence in heterosexual relationships turn to homosexuality as a result, and worse, into man-haters. This is utter nonsense and hugely insulting to boot. I am appalled that in the twenty-first century, we still unquestioningly parrot puritanical and colonially imposed Victorian values.
Sexuality is a private issue that should be between two consenting adults. Sexual orientation is also fluid, for some more than others. One’s sexual orientation if it differs from others is not due to manipulative organizations or conniving agendas but simply due to the fact that we are all, as human beings, complex creatures with multiple identities. Just as much as the search for, and worse, belief in the purity of a race is the foundations of genocide, racism and exclusion, the Daily Mirror’s obnoxious conflation of normality with heterosexuality suggests an Editor partial to violence based on sexual orientation.
Given that the Wijeya Newspaper group, which publishes the Daily Mirror, was the exclusive print media partner of Pride Week events including ‘Rainbow Runway’, a fashion and drag show,Â and has (courageously) featured advertising campaigns against homophobia in the past, this Editorial is not just deeply insulting to the reader, it is blatantly hypocritical by the paper’s own standards. Beyond its abominable take on homosexuality, this Editorial is also a damning indictment of the professionalism and competence of Sri Lanka’s mainstream media, where Editorial oversight â€“ such as it exists â€“ countenances the publication of mindless drivel and hearsay as informed opinion.
It is this that is abnormal, not the sexuality of our fellow citizens.