An Australian newspaper is on the receiving end of a wave of social media criticism after publishing a graphic which seems to qualify same-sex attraction as a health concern.
As Buzzfeed News reports, The Daily Telegraph published an article about a government study on the health of young people in New South Wales, Australia, which focused on obesity, sexuality, and mental health, among other markers (this study isn't available online at the time of writing, but we're keeping our eyes peeled). The Telegraph included graphics to visualize the report's findings — and one in particular did not go over well.
Always prepared to drag those who need dragging, Twitter users rose to the occasion, spreading a little awareness with their criticism. Because who doesn't love learning?
A few tweeters have even added helpful information about how to file a complaint with the Australian Press Council:
If you're wondering when being queer became linked to obesity, the answer is never. Though the article itself does touch on data about young people and sexuality, the placement of the graphic beneath a (fairly aggressive) headline about health and obesity is highly confusing. Surrounded by data points that actually have to do with bodily wellbeing, like drug use, alcohol consumption, and mental health, the graphic seems out of place, to say the least. Yes, being queer does mean higher risks of exposure to certain hazards and health concerns — but those risks stem primarily from systematic discrimination and stigma. Queerness itself is not a health condition. So no, you won't be exposing yourself to any toxic LGBTQ pathogens by reading this story, being around gay people, or otherwise existing anywhere on this earth.
The Daily Telegraph released a statement in response to the viral conversation, essentially deflecting all journalistic responsibility and alleging that the graphic had just been misunderstood by the majority of the entire Internet.
To some, this design flop is simply minutiae, and the public response an overreaction. But given that homosexuality was only removed from the DSM in 1987, the history of conflating queerness and ill health is a very real and painful one. And with every iteration of homophobia, discrimination, and violence still running rampant throughout the world, these little things matter.
More often than not, we learn a lot about ourselves and those different from us through the media we consume. The passing impact this graphic can have on a young queer person or the people with whom that queer individual will interact can have a huge impact on shapng their opinions, experience, and safety.
Given these realities, no one should be asking queer people to overlook moments like these, which happen daily — we are not misunderstanding. Besides, if an error like this is so small, we would imagine it's also easy enough to fix before going to print.
Refinery29 has reached out to The Daily Telegraph and will update this story if we receive a response.
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