President urges youth to shun homosexuality – Sunday News

Date: December 8, 2010
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Description of article:
The article discusses President Robert Mugabe’s sentiments towards gay and lesbian marriages at a wedding he had been invited to of an Indian heterosexual couple. The President decided to take the opportunity to last out at gays and lesbians in Zimbabwe and the world over. The story highlights the disheartening attitudes that members of society even those who are in top positions have towards gays and lesbians. The president puts across the notion that it is wrong and immoral to have gay or lesbian marriages and describes such unions as ‘unnatural’ or improper.

This article may be used to:
– Highlight stigmatisation and discriminatory behaviour that is targeted at gays and lesbians in Zimbabwe.
– Provide a leeway to discuss gay and lesbian rights especially in the context of the new constitution in Zimbabwe.
– Show the language that those who are against homosexuality use to describe this group of people and at the same time lead to their expurgation in society.
– Reflect on violence against individuals because of their sexual orientation as well as state persecution.

The headline promotes a repressive environment for the gay and lesbian community in Zimbabwe. A voice of authority “shuns” homosexuality and thus commands intolerance and insensitivity to sexual orientation. The power of any leader cannot be underestimated in this case because what leaders say can influence and buttress the already negative attitudes and perceptions the public already has.

The article is poorly sourced as it has one male speaking throughout the story. The person quoted is an authority. This shows lack of diversity in sources which limits the views that can be brought forth especially from ordinary people in the community to discuss homosexuality which is usually described as taboo in many societies. It is a bad story in its sourcing because the gays and lesbian voices are not reflected and thus it fails to engage its audiences with other sources to bring about balance in voices and views. Using only one source also shows lack of good journalistic skills by the writer.

The language used is judgemental and conveys biases against what seems to be ‘abnormal’. It portrays homosexuality as a “wrong” practice that cannot be tolerated. Such language reinforces retrogressive notions which in turn cultivate insensitivity towards homosexuality. In addition, it does not open a space for debating the issue of sexuality in a conservative society.
Story Angle and perspective: The story is told from a male viewpoint which dominates throughout the story. There is however no balance and this rids the article of different viewpoints which could add more value and knowledge to the issue of sexuality.

Training Exercises
– Discuss the role that the media can play in changing negative perceptions of homosexuality in society.
– Have a debate with young people on how they perceive sexuality.

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