Carina Trimingham has lost her case against Associated Newspapers’ Daily Mail today. The national newspaper, known for its often discriminatory stance towards the gay community, has printed over 65 stories about Trimingham during June and July 2010, and additional comments on the paper’s website, include ones calling the 45-year-old “an over-the-hill lesbian brunette” and a “rugby prop forward.”
Trimingham expressed her concern: “I am extremely disappointed by this judgement. There is a ray of light, however. Thankfully, the Court has accepted today that repeated mocking of a person by a national newspaper by reference to their sexual orientation would almost inevitably be so oppressive as to amount to harassment. However, the Court did not appreciate that when newspapers make repeated irrelevant references to sexuality – particularly in the context of pejorative and stereotypical references to appearance – it amounts to the same type of mocking which the Court has confirmed is unacceptable. This is confused, and I think wrong. I am very concerned that this judgment may become a blueprint for bullies and bigots. I intend to appeal.”
Julie Bindel, a regular writer for The Guardian and g3 magazine for lesbian and bi women, said: “It is unbelievable that the Daily Mail has got away with hate speech against lesbians. The grotesque sentiments expressed in that vile newspaper about Carina is an insult to every single lesbian. The Mail is inciting its readership to bully, abuse and despise an already oppressed minority.”
It is currently a prosecutable offense for members of the public to act in a homophobic manner towards other people, however, there are no legal constraints on the media’s ‘freedom of speech’, and in this case, the articles were not viewed as harassment.
Linda Riley, Managing Director of Square Peg Media, said: “Comments and insults based on stereotypes about someone’s sexuality are not the same as insults that merely refer to their appearance or demeanour. The latter can be hurtful and unpleasant. But the former – like insults based on stereotypes about a person’s race or religion – go to the heart of someone’s identity. For that reason they are more serious and cannot be brushed aside in the same way.”
There have been various campaigns against the Daily Mail’s editorial, Riley adds: “It is unfair that a newspaper with such power in society is allowed to continuously get away with homophobic hatred.”
Square Peg Media, publishers of g3 magazine, Out in the City and outnews.co.uk are in the mounting a campaign to stop the media having the right to discriminate. Please have your say and comment on this article.