Culture

The Daily Telegraph Is (Kinda) Sorry For Accidentally Suggesting Being Gay Is Unhealthy

The paper compared same-sex attraction to drug use and obesity.

Today The Daily Telegraph ran a story covering the apparent “health crisis” facing young Australians. The report was based on a NSW government survey covering drug use and eating habits amongst young people. But it’s the accompanying infographic, suggesting that same-sex attraction is unhealthy, that’s attracted the strongest response and led to the paper’s editor issuing a sort-of apology.

Here’s the image:daily_teleYep, that’s a statistic on the number of LGBTI high school students in Australia… under a headline about how unhealthy young people are. The other statistics cover issues like drug use, obesity and psychological distress, so including the number of same-sex attracted school students in Australia does feel a bit of out place.

The graphic was slammed on social media.

The story accompanying the graphic doesn’t imply same-sex attraction is a health issue, rather it just quotes the figure from the NSW government health study. A Daily Telegraph staffer posted on Facebook today that the graphic and the story “shouldn’t have gone together”.

They were worked on separately, and put together at two minutes to deadline,” they said. “It was an accident.”

A number of politicians have criticised the paper and called for a retraction and an apology. Greens senator Janet Rice said “To align being gay or lesbian next to obesity or drug addiction sends a dangerous signal that must be immediately condemned. The Daily Tele has never been sympathetic to struggling LGBTIQ students but this is something else altogether.

“To then also headline this ridiculous statistic with ‘young Aussies only have themselves to blame’ suggests that being gay or bisexual is a choice,” she said. “Of course that is not true and also sends a dangerous message.”

Labor’s shadow minister for health, Catherine King, said the graphic was “unacceptable and ill-informed”.

In a statement The Daily Telegraph’s editor, Christopher Dore, said that “the headline clearly referred to the health issue of obesity, as did the accompanying story, which focused on diet.”

“It is a statistical picture of young people’s lives, from where they live to how they live,” he said. “Unfortunately the presentation of the story has been misinterpreted. The story in no way suggests, or intends to suggest, that same-sex relationships are unhealthy.”

Dore is actually right, the story doesn’t suggest that. But the problem isn’t with the story, but with the infographic. And in another situation the paper might deserve the benefit of the doubt, but after running a campaign targeting the Safe Schools program, it’s not surprising people are calling this out.