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2nd Edition
Written and Edited by Brian Pellot and Debra L. Mason
A Reporting Guide for Journalists
2nd Edition

Written and Edited by Brian Pellot and Debra L. Mason

Published by Taboom Media and Heinrich Böll Stiftung Southern Africa with
additional support from the Arcus Foundation and the Palette Fund
Lead Author and Editor: Taboom Media
Brian Pellot, Founding Director at Heinrich Böll Stiftung Southern Africa
Taboom Media Cape Town, South Africa

This work is published under a Creative

Contributing Author and Editor: Commons Attribution-NonCom-
Debra L. Mason, Co-Founder at mercial-ShareAlike 2.0 license. CC
Taboom Media BY-NC-SA 2.0 2020

Publication was made possible with fund-

Contributing Editor (First Edition): ing from the Heinrich Böll Foundation,
Paula Assubuji, Human Rights Programme the Arcus Foundation, and the Palette
Manager at Heinrich Böll Stiftung Fund. The contents of the publication are
Southern Africa the sole responsibility of its authors and
do not necessarily represent the views of
funding partners.
Tamzyn La Gorcé

To view or download a digital version of

this guide, please visit:

First published in 2017

Second edition 2020

01. Introduction01
02. Reporting Resolution 03
03. Ethical Human Rights Reporting Principles 06
04. Key SSOGIE Terminology 14
05. Sorting SSOGIE Myths from Facts 24
06. How to Report on SSOGIE Issues 29
07. How NOT to Report on SSOGIE Issues 37
08. Religious Perspectives on SSOGIE Issues 43
09. Religion Reporting Tips 56
10. Source Safety and Digital Security 60
11. Journalist Safety and Wellness 65
12. Additional Resources and Readings 70
- Research70
- Reporting Guides and Media Analysis 76
- Stories and Narratives 78
13. Sub-Saharan Source Guide 81
- Southern Africa 81
- Eastern Africa 89
- Western Africa 92
- Central Africa 95
- Pan-Africa and International 96
14. Contributor Biographies 103
15. About Taboom Media 106
16. Endnotes108

This 2nd Edition of Covering Sexual and Gender Minorities & Religion in
Sub-Saharan Africa: A Reporting Guide for Journalists would not have
been possible without the support, collaboration, and insight of numer-
ous individuals and organizations around the world.

Taboom Media wishes to thank the Arcus Foundation, the Heinrich Böll
Foundation, the Palette Fund, and the European Journalism Centre for
their financial support. We thank the office team at Heinrich Böll Stiftung
Southern Africa for logistical assistance and Investigative Reporters and
Editors for serving as Taboom LLC’s fiscal sponsor.

Regional trainers Brian Pellot, Debra Mason, Selly Thiam, Isabella Matam-
banadzo, Nanjala Nyabola, and Carl Collison have brought to fruition the
reporting workshops on which this guide is based, and guest speakers
have added valuable insight. Some content included herein was previ-
ously published in other formats, as noted and attributed throughout.
We thank the original authors and organizations for their work.

Finally, we thank the hundreds of journalists who have traveled across

Sub-Saharan Africa to participate in our regional and country-specific work-
shops. Their willingness to learn and share has been inspiring. We hope their
final stories, many of which are available on our website1, encourage fellow
journalists to cover sexual and gender minorities & religion with honesty, fair-
ness, accuracy, transparency, sensitivity, and thoroughness.


02 A Reporting Guide for Journalists


In Sub-Saharan Africa, as in much of mitted to helping one another and our

the world, reporting on sex, sexual broader network of colleagues improve
orientation, gender identity, and gender coverage of sexual and gender minori-
expression (SSOGIE) can be tricky. Cul- ties & religion in Sub-Saharan Africa.
tural taboos, entrenched stereotypes,
social hostilities, legal prohibitions, Taboom Media has since led dozens of
and editorial censorship often distort regional and country-specific SSOGIE and
coverage of these sensitive topics. religion reporting workshops for hundreds
Add religion to the mix and producing of journalists across the continent. This
responsible journalism on sexual and guide summarizes some of the key prin-
gender minorities can seem impossible. ciples and topics our workshops address
while also offering journalists a trove of
In November 2016, Taboom Media set resources and sources to enhance their
out to show that ethical and sensitive own coverage of these issues.
coverage of SSOGIE issues and commu-
nities is not only possible, it’s necessary. Since we published the first edition of
To this end, we assembled 24 profes- this guide in 2017, much has changed.
sional journalists and editors represent- Angola and Botswana decriminalized
ing 15 countries across Sub-Saharan same-sex sexual activity while Chad
Africa for a four-day reporting workshop and Gabon enacted new laws making
in Cape Town, South Africa. it a crime. As rights and lived realities
continue to shift, it’s critical that journal-
During that first workshop, we dis- ists bear witness to and document this
cussed our motivations and professional real-time history. We hope the updated
obligations as journalists; reviewed key information, terminology, links, and
concepts and terms around SSOGIE resources in this second edition help
issues and religion; shared regional keep you safe and informed as you cover
media freedom challenges and oppor- the difficult and sometimes dangerous
tunities from our own communities; issues surrounding sexual and gender
analyzed structural roots of inequality; minorities & religion in Sub-Saharan
brainstormed story ideas, angles, Africa and around the world.
and sources; strategized how best to
protect source safety and sensitivity; and — Brian Pellot
debated issues around news value and Lead Author and Editor
public interest. We started the week as Taboom Media
strangers and ended it as friends, com- June 2020

01 A Reporting Guide for Journalists



02 A Reporting Guide for Journalists

Reporting Resolution

In Sub-Saharan Africa, sexual and gen- to put biases aside and to embrace the
der minorities remain disadvantaged, core teachings of our profession.
stigmatized, and excluded from many
aspects of economic, political, and The following reporting resolution was
social life. Alarming levels of discrimina- first drafted during our 2016 regional
tion, prejudice, and violence make these workshop and has continued to evolve
often marginalized and misunderstood with each subsequent training. It
individuals and communities particularly reflects some of the best practices
vulnerable to human rights violations. journalists have identified to improve
coverage of sexual and gender
As journalists, we have the power to minorities & religion. It serves as a
replace dehumanizing stereotypes with useful starting point and summary of
nuanced and accurate portrayals of per- what’s to come in this guide.
secuted minorities. Doing so requires us

Trainees visit Auwal Masjid in Bo-Kaap, Cape Town. Photo by Brian Pellot.

03 A Reporting Guide for Journalists

06. Seek out knowledgeable sources
Taboom Media Reporting who can provide accurate infor-
Resolution mation and analysis.
Covering Sexual and
07. Always consider the motivations
Gender Minorities & Religion
and potential biases of our sources.
in Sub-Saharan Africa
08. Diligently verify all details when
As journalists from across Sub-Saharan covering sensitive news. Ask for
clarification when needed.
Africa, we adhere to our profession’s
principles of honesty, fairness, accuracy,
09. Avoid including dangerous hate
transparency, sensitivity, and thorough-
speech in our stories.
ness. When reporting and editing on
sexual and gender minorities & religion,
10. Avoid sensationalizing or capital-
we resolve to: izing on marginalized identities.

11. Avoid using imagery that depicts

01. Develop our knowledge of differ-
religious or sexual and gender
ent SSOGIE (Sex, Sexual Orienta-
minorities in stereotypical or
tion, Gender Identity, and Gender
dehumanizing ways.
Expression) issues and belief
12. Take all measures possible to
protect the safety and security of
02. Avoid mentioning SSOGIE status
sources, subjects, communities,
or faith affiliation when such
and ourselves.
information is not directly rele-
vant to a story.
13. Practice the qualities of respon-
sible, ethical journalism by min-
03. Carefully consider word choice
imizing harm and interrogating
and framing around sexual and
hearsay and rumor.
gender minorities and followers
of different faiths. Use sources’
preferred terminology when 14. Encourage diversity in our
appropriate. newsrooms and educate our
04. Allow marginalized and under-
represented people to speak for 15. Ensure that our personal beliefs
themselves and in their own and biases do not influence the
voices. accuracy of our reporting or limit
the topics we cover. If our beliefs
somehow jeopardize our ability
05. Strive to include moderate
to fairly cover a story, we should
voices in our reporting, not just
pass it onto a colleague who can
the extremes.
do it justice.

04 A Reporting Guide for Journalists


05 A Reporting Guide for Journalists
Ethical Human Rights
Reporting Principles

Covering SSOGIE and religious to humbly acknowledge and correct

minorities is part and parcel of human past mistakes in our reporting.
rights reporting. This section discusses
important ethical principles that profes- Committing to these basic principles of
sional journalists should remember when our profession means giving individuals
covering human rights topics. and communities the opportunity to
speak in their own words and tell their
The London-based Ethical Journalism own stories. Doing so contributes to the
Network2 (EJN) lists truth and accuracy, accurate portrayal of underrepresented
independence, fairness and impartiality, minorities in our communities.
humanity, and accountability as five
of the most important principles that
distinguish ethical journalism from pro-
paganda or public relations.

To ensure truth and accuracy, we as We often start our workshops by asking

journalists must learn about the topics trainees why they became journalists.
we cover. To achieve independence, Common responses include: “to give
we must limit the influence of interested voice to the voiceless; to make sense of
parties that try to shape our work. To the world for my audience; to challenge
foster fairness and impartiality, we stereotypes, entrenched norms, and
should interview and seek input from a structural inequalities; to expose cor-
diverse range of relevant stakeholders, ruption; to enact positive change in my
most importantly the individuals and community.” We also ask why they are
communities we’re covering. To safe- keen to report on human rights issues:
guard humanity, we should recognize “to right wrongs and injustices; to inform
and strive to minimize any potential harm people of their rights; to promote good
our reporting may bring upon vulnerable governance; to create a freer society; to
individuals and communities. To ensure advocate for vulnerable and exploited
accountability to our readers, we need communities; to address violence and

06 A Reporting Guide for Journalists

impunity against groups; to expose are sometimes complicit in legitimiz-
the daily struggle of my people.” We ing and spreading this vitriol, as we’ll
ask them to list traits that make a good explore in later chapters.
journalist great: “passion; curiosity;
sensitivity; empathy; patience; integ- When hate speech crops up in profes-
rity; tolerance; conscientiousness; sional journalism, it does a disservice
courage; thoroughness; objectivity; to our profession, our audience, and
impartiality; willingness to learn; com- society at large. Sometimes it reinforces
mitment to accuracy.” unpleasant stereotypes; other times it
contributes to evils far worse. But what
These motivations, qualities, and constitutes hate speech, and how do we
principles form the backbone of ethical balance the right to freedom of expres-
and professional human rights reporting. sion with a need to prevent the spread of
By identifying important stories that are dangerous rhetoric?
not being told accurately (or at all), we
can shine light on human rights abuses
and do our part to help make the world
a better place, all while maintaining our
journalistic credibility.
Broadly speaking, we can think of hate
speech as that which denigrates people
COVERING AND AVOIDING based on some aspect(s) of their individ-
DANGEROUS HATE SPEECH ual or group identities. Legal discrep-
ancies and local sensitivities mean that
Ethical journalists have a responsibility the same quote from a source or line in
to cover the facts, but we also have a a story might be considered discrimi-
responsibility to avoid unnecessarily natory, hateful, offensive, dangerous,
stoking hatred and violence, especially libelous, blasphemous, treasonous,
when tensions are running high. seditious, or perfectly acceptable from
one country to the next. Given this real-
Some politicians and religious lead- ity, it’s important to familiarize yourself
ers across Sub-Saharan Africa and with local red lines when reporting on
around the world use homophobic and controversial issues at home or abroad.
transphobic hate speech to rally public
support around a common perceived Article 20 of the International Covenant
enemy (sexual and gender minorities), on Civil and Political Rights3 broadly
distracting the masses from other eco- defines hate speech as any advocacy of
nomic, political, or social concerns. By national, racial, or religious hatred that
labeling same-sex attraction and gender constitutes incitement to discrimination,
nonconformity as unAfrican, ungodly, hostility, or violence. The U.S. outlaws
sinful, immoral, illegal, or unacceptable, speech intended to and likely to pro-
these leaders create scapegoats out of voke imminent lawless action — a very
already vulnerable minorities. Journalists high threshold. The legal bar is much

07 A Reporting Guide for Journalists

lower in most countries, resulting in Jews, Protestant vs. Catholic Christians.
prohibitions against homophobia, Then there’s hatred exchanged on other
transphobia, racism, blasphemy, reli- belief grounds: religious groups teaming
gious defamation, and a range of other up to resist equal rights for sexual and
speech and thought crimes. gender minorities; atheists ridiculing
believers of any stripe. These inter- and
intra-religious tensions often result in
faith-based hate speech, even if religion
is just one factor in a broader conflict
over resources, culture, politics, or along
Conflict is bound to arise when different other fault lines.
groups express mutually exclusive
claims to truth and believe that salvation A 2019 Pew Research Center report4
is on the line. For this reason, religion citing 2017 data found harassment
and hateful or offensive speech often of religious groups in most countries
overlap in complicated ways. We see: surveyed. Christians, Muslims, and Jews
Evangelical Christians accuse Mormons face harassment in the highest number
of following a “false prophet” in the of countries, but Sikhs, Zoroastrians,
U.S.; Christians and Muslims battle for Bahá’ís, Hindus, Buddhists, and people
converts in Africa; Buddhists and Hindus of other faiths and none are also subject
persecute Muslims in Asia. There’s also to social hostilities and government
animosity within religions: Sunni vs. Shi- restrictions based upon their beliefs.
ite Muslims, ultra-Orthodox vs. Reform

08 A Reporting Guide for Journalists

IDENTIFYING HATE SPEECH: 04. The reach of the speech
Limited off-color remarks in private
conversations are unlikely to
The Ethical Journalism Network’s five-point
produce much harm. That changes
test5 highlights what journalists and editors
if hateful remarks are repeatedly
should consider when deciding how to
broadcast for all to see, a good indi-
report potentially inflammatory news:
cator that the speaker may be trying
to deliberately promote hostility.
01. The content and form of speech
05. The objectives of the speech
Journalists should ask themselves
whether the speech they are Journalists should strive to determine
quoting is dangerous. Will it incite whether speech is deliberately
violence, intensify hatred, or lead to designed to denigrate the rights of
prosecution under local laws? others and should know what forms
of expression are subject to legal
sanctions. When confronted with
02. The economic, social, and
hate speech, EJN advises journalists
political climate
not to sensationalize it and to think
Hateful speech can become more through potential consequences
dangerous amid economic, social, before rushing to publish.
and political strife. Where insecurity
and instability reign supreme, jour-
nalists should evaluate what impact
quoting hateful speech might have
on its intended targets.

03. The position or status of

the speaker

Journalists should not act as indis-

criminate megaphones for hate
speech. If a prominent source makes
hateful, false, or malicious claims,
those claims should be scrutinized “Journalists on Duty” by Yan Arief Purwanto
and reported accordingly. If a is licensed under CC by-SA 2.0 license.
non-public figure makes unsubstanti-
ated claims, they should be ignored
if not newsworthy.

09 A Reporting Guide for Journalists

10 A Reporting Guide for Journalists
IDENTIFYING DANGEROUS even your own writing could be consid-
SPEECH: A FIVE-POINT TEST ered dangerous hate speech.

“Dangerous speech” is inflammatory HOW TO HANDLE

speech that has the capacity to catalyze OFFENSIVE SPEECH
violence among different groups. Susan
Benesch, who heads the Dangerous
Someone might be upset by facts or
Speech Project, says the most danger-
ideas you publish, but that alone is no
ous speech acts occur when the follow-
reason to censor yourself. A professional
ing five factors6 are maximized:
journalist’s duty is to inform the public,
not to shield people from uncomfortable
or upsetting realities. That being said,
01. The speaker is powerful and a story’s perceived newsworthiness
has a high degree of influence should always be balanced with concern
over the audience for the safety of sources and vulnerable
communities that might be affected by
02. The audience has grievances your reporting.
and fear that the speaker can
cultivate Followers of different faiths consider
certain forms of expression hateful or
03. The speech act is understood offensive, even if they are legal in most
as a call to violence countries. The 2015 Charlie Hebdo
attacks7 in France and earlier controver-
04. There exists a social or his- sies such as the 2005 Danish cartoons8
torical context propitious for demonstrate the dangers that can arise
violence, for any of a variety of when taboos — depicting the Prophet
reasons, including long-stand- Muhammad, in these cases — are
ing competition between broken. Christian outrage over “blasphe-
groups for resources, lack of mous” art9 and music videos10 show that
efforts to solve grievances, or Muslims aren’t the only ones who take
previous episodes of violence offense to irreverent portrayals of their
sacred beliefs.
05. There exists a means of dis-
semination that is influential When reporting on these tensions, try
in itself, for example because it to understand why individuals or groups
is the sole or primary source of are offended, but don’t confuse freedom
news for the relevant audience of religion or belief and freedom of
expression — both fundamental human
Use these two five-point tests to help rights — with a community’s desire to be
determine whether your sources’ state- shielded from offense.
ments, your colleagues’ broadcasts, or

11 A Reporting Guide for Journalists

Before journalists can decide whether It’s important to remember that jour-
to publish potentially offensive material, nalists do not enjoy absolute freedom
they first need to understand what differ- of expression. We all face legal and
ent groups consider offensive and why. ethical limits on our reporting, and our
Consult local faith leaders and SSOGIE profession’s harm limitation principle
activists and check out ReligionLink’s should be carefully considered when
various reporting guides11 to ensure that determining how to handle potentially
your language is accurate and nuanced. offensive speech. Different media
outlets will arrive at different conclu-
The five-point Hate Speech and Danger- sions in this balancing act. Whatever
ous Speech tests above can help you rationale shapes such decisions, basic
assess whether source quotes that some news values should trump fear of caus-
readers consider offensive are likely to ing offense.
prompt violence or actual harm. Sources
who resort to sensational rhetoric, For more resources and sources on
hateful slurs, or dehumanizing stereo- ethical human rights reporting princi-
types should be ignored or challenged ples and hate speech, see our Report-
by including alternative voices in your ing Guide on Covering and Avoiding
reporting. Biased, misleading, or other- Religious Hate Speech12.
wise inaccurate portrayals of individuals
and groups have no place in a responsi-
ble journalist’s toolkit.

Taboom trainers Isabella Matambanadzo and Carl Collison lead a session during our regional
workshop in October 2019. Photo by Brian Pellot.

12 A Reporting Guide for Journalists



13 A Reporting Guide for Journalists

Key SSOGIE Terminology

Before reaching out to sources, it’s Rather than trying to fit sources into par-
important to familiarize yourself with the ticular identity categories, allow them to
relevant terminology that tends to come use their own vocabulary, and describe
up in conversations about sex, sexual them as such in your reporting when
orientation, gender identity, and gender appropriate.
expression (SSOGIE). Knowing that
LGBTQI+ stands for lesbian, gay, bisex- Though not exhaustive, the following
ual, transgender, queer, intersex, and definitions provide a useful starting
more (+) is just the tip of the iceberg. point for journalists and a glossary for
Not every SSOGIE minority chooses to this guide.
use these terms and labels.

A term for human rights defenders who are supportive of LGBTQI+

people, communities, and/or social movements but do not them-
selves identify as LGBTQI+. Most allies identify as cisgender and/or

A sexual orientation characterized by a lack of sexual attraction,

Asexual: which is different from romantic or emotional attraction. Asexuality is
a range, not a fixed endpoint, on the spectrum of sexual attraction.

Emotional disgust, fear, anger, and/or discomfort felt or expressed

Bi/Homo/ towards people who don’t conform to certain societal expectations
Intersex/Trans/ around sex or gender. Biphobia, Homophobia, Intersexphobia,
Queer-phobia: Transphobia, and Queerphobia are human-made constructs often
fed by political, religious, legal, and pseudo-medical justifications.

14 A Reporting Guide for Journalists

A binary term for someone who is sexually, romantically, and/
or emotionally attracted to both males and females or men and
women. The term “pansexual” is more inclusive and expansive than
“bisexual” (see definition below).

A person whose gender identity and/or expressions mostly align

Cisgender: with societal expectations associated with the sex they were
assigned at birth.

The process of identifying to oneself and to others in accordance

Coming out:
with one’s sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

A biological sex assignment based on characteristics including

chromosomes, gonads, sex hormones, or genitals. Females typi-
cally have XX chromosomes, a vagina and ovaries, and higher levels
of estrogen than males, among other sex characteristics.

Gender attributes, behaviors, and roles typically associated with

Feminine: girls and women. Such attributes can vary greatly across time and

Describes a person who is sexually, romantically, and/or emo-

tionally attracted to people of the same sex or gender. This means
males or men who are attracted to other males or men, or females
or women who are attracted to other females or women. The word
“gay” can refer to any homosexual person, but mostly it refers to
homosexual men.

Socially constructed roles, behaviors, activities, and attributes that a

given society associates with men and women.

How individuals present their relationships with masculinity and/

Gender or femininity through external characteristics and behavior. This can
expressions: include dress, mannerisms, grooming, speech patterns, and social
interactions, among many other traits.

Refers to a person’s innate, deeply felt psychological identification

as man, woman, or another category. This may or may not corre-
spond with the sex a person was assigned at birth.

15 A Reporting Guide for Journalists

Gender identities/expressions that do not match typically mascu-
line or feminine gender norms. Terms similar to “genderqueer,” all
with different meanings, include gender diverse, gender noncon-
forming, gender non-binary, pangender, third gender, genderfree,
gender-fluid, and gender variant. These terms (spellings vary)
emphasize that gender can be non-binary or non-fixed.

Gender Distress or discomfort people may experience if their gender identi-

dysphoria: ties or expressions do not align with societal expectations.

Someone who identifies with multiple genders, or who has fluctuat-

ing gender identities.

People who do not conform to societally expected binary gen-

der norms in terms of expressions or identities around masculin-
ity and femininity.

Gender pronouns such as She/Her/Hers, He/Him/His, They/

Them/Their(s) allow us to refer to a person without constantly
Gender repeating that person’s name. They/Them/Their(s) can be used as
pronouns: gender-neutral singular pronouns and are often the preferred pro-
nouns of genderqueer people. Always use your source’s preferred

Promoting heterosexuality as superior, “natural,” or “normal,” or

assuming that all people are heterosexual.

Heterosexual/ Someone whose predominant attraction is to the “opposite” sex or

Straight: gender (in a binary system).

Homosexual: Someone whose predominant attraction is to the same sex or gender.

Withholding information about one’s sex, sexual orientation, or

In the closet:
gender identity. Also referred to as “closeted.”

A biological sex assignment based on characteristics including

Intersex: chromosomes, gonads, sex hormones, or genitals. Intersex falls
between typical definitions of male and female.

16 A Reporting Guide for Journalists

Key populations (KPs), as identified by UNAIDS, have the highest
risk of contracting and transmitting HIV and the least access to pre-
Key vention, care, and treatment services due to stigma or criminaliza-
populations: tion. Key populations vary somewhat by context but often include
men who have sex with men, transgender persons, sex workers,
intravenous drug users, prisoners, and truck drivers.

Acronym that stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer,

intersex, and more (+). This umbrella term is acceptable when
describing communities or issues that affect most sexual and gender
minorities. Do not describe individuals as LGBTQI+, and do not use
the acronym when discussing issues that only pertain to a particular
group (intersex people, for instance).

A female or woman who is sexually, romantically, and/or emotion-

ally attracted to other females or women.

A biological sex assignment based on characteristics including

chromosomes, gonads, sex hormones, or genitals. Males typically
have XY chromosomes, a penis and testes, and higher levels of
testosterone than females, among other sex characteristics.

A person who identifies as a man, regardless of sex or

gender expressions.

Gender attributes, behaviors, and roles typically associated with boys

and men. Such attributes can vary greatly across time and culture.

Men (or males) who have sex with men (or males). They may or may
not identify as gay or bisexual.

The opposite of being “in the closet.” People who are “out” are
open about their sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity to
at least some people in their lives. Do not assume that people
who are out to friends are necessarily out to family or colleagues.
People should come out on their own terms, not be forcibly
“outed” by others.

17 A Reporting Guide for Journalists

Sexual, romantic, or emotional attraction towards people regardless
of their sex or gender identity. The term “pansexual” is more inclu-
sive and expansive than “bisexual,” which by definition perpetuates
gender and sex binaries.

An umbrella term that is used by many sexual and gender minori-

ties to describe themselves. Many value its inclusiveness in terms
of sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expres-
Queer: sions. “Queer” was once considered derogatory but has been
“reclaimed” in many LGBTQI+ communities. Only use this term
when the sexual and gender minorities you’re engaging with use it,
and when doing so is clearly not offensive.

The process of seeking information and support when exploring

one’s sex, sexual orientation, and/or gender identity.

Assignment at birth as male, female, or intersex based upon biologi-

cal and physiological characteristics.

The surgical procedures by which some transgender people’s

Sex reassign- sexual characteristics (physical appearances and/or functions) are
ment surgeries: altered to more closely align with sexual characteristics commonly
associated with their gender identities.

An umbrella term for people who are oriented towards or who

engage in “non-heterosexual” activities, and for individuals who do
not fall into the binary sex categories of male or female.

The preferred term used when referring to an individual’s innate

romantic, sexual, and/or emotional attraction to other people, with
Sexual regards to sex and/or gender. “Heterosexual,” “bisexual,” “pan-
orientation: sexual,” “asexual,” and “homosexual” are all examples of sexual
orientations. A person’s sexual orientation is distinct from a person’s
gender identity and expressions.

Indicates sexual desires that are more individual and fluid than sex-
ual orientation. Someone may have a sexual preference for people
with certain physical characteristics, or they may prefer certain
sexual practices. Do not refer to someone’s innate sexual orientation
as a “preference.”

18 A Reporting Guide for Journalists

The term often used to describe laws that prohibit consensual
sexual acts among consenting adults. Such acts are seldom fully
“Sodomy” laws: defined but can include anal and oral sex, even among heterosexual
people. Sodomy laws are most often used to target men who have
sex with men, but also apply to women in many jurisdictions.

SSOGIE/SOGIE/ Acronyms used to refer to Sex, Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity,

SOGI: and Gender Expressions.

An umbrella to describe someone whose gender identity or expres-

Transgender: sions differ from societal expectations based on the sex that person
was assigned at birth.

The process of altering or affirming one’s sex and/or gender. This

Transition: may or may not include changing legal documents, physical alter-
ations, surgeries, etc.

A person who identifies as a woman, regardless of sex or

gender expressions.

Women (or females) who have sex with women (or females).
They may not identify as lesbian or bisexual.

19 A Reporting Guide for Journalists


The GLAAD Media Reference Guide - 10th Edition13, published in October 2016 and
updated every few years, elaborates on some of these definitions in its Terms to Avoid14 sec-
tion, which has been modified and republished below. The guide also includes glossaries
of LGBTQ terms, transgender terms15, and a summary of relevant Associated Press and New
York Times style terms16, which continue to evolve.


“homosexual” (as noun or adjective) “gay people,” “gay man,” “lesbian,” etc.

Because of the clinical history of the word Use your source’s preferred terminology
“homosexual,” it is sometimes used by (gay, lesbian, bisexual, queer, etc.). Do not
anti-LGBTQI+ sources to suggest that peo- use “a gay” or “gays” as stand-alone nouns.
ple attracted to the same sex are somehow The same logic applies for genderqueer
diseased or psychologically disordered – people -- Do not use “a transgender” or
notions that have long been discredited by “transgenders” as isolated nouns.
psychological and psychiatric associations The LGBTQI+ letters are adjectives.
around the world. Avoid using “homo-
sexual” except in direct quotes or proper
names of organizations and research.

“homosexual relations/relation- “relationship,” “sex,” “couple,” etc.

ship,” “homosexual sex,” “gay sex,”
“homosexual couple,” etc. Avoid describing an activity, emotion, or
relationship as “gay, lesbian, bisexual,
Identifying a same-sex couple as “a or queer”. In most cases, your audience
homosexual couple,” characterizing their can infer people’s sexes, genders, and/or
relationship as “a homosexual relation- orientations from your depictions of rela-
ship,” or identifying their intimacy as tionships and use of pronouns. Relevant
“homosexual sex” is sometimes used by modifiers may sometimes be necessary for
anti-LGBTQI+ sources to denigrate queer clarity. Use discretion.
people, couples, and relationships. Avoid
extraneous modifiers.

“sexual preference” “sexual orientation”

The term “sexual preference” is typically Sexual orientation is the accurate descrip-
used to suggest that sexual orientation is tion of an individual’s enduring physical,
a choice and can therefore be changed romantic, and/or emotional attraction to
or “cured.” other people, with regards to sex and/or
gender. The term applies to lesbian, gay,
bisexual, pansexual, asexual, and straight
people alike.

20 A Reporting Guide for Journalists


“gay lifestyle,” “homosexual life- “LGBTQI+ people’s lives/lived

style,” “transgender lifestyle,” or realities”
There is no uniform LGBTQI+ lifestyle.
The phrases “gay lifestyle,” “homosexual Queer people’s hopes, desires, values,
lifestyle,” and “transgender lifestyle” are and lifestyles are as diverse as anyone’s.
typically used to denigrate LGBTQI+ peo-
ple and to suggest they live immorally.

“admitted homosexual,” “avowed “out gay man,” “openly bisexual,”

homosexual,” “confessed homosex- “identifies as queer”
ual,” or “confirmed homosexual”
“Out” implies that a person openly and
Outdated terms used to describe people publicly identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual,
who self-identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer, etc., at least in some
queer, etc. in their personal, public, and/ circumstances.
or professional lives. Such words suggest
that being attracted to the same sex is
somehow shameful or inherently secretive.

“gay agenda” or “homosexual Accurate descriptions of the issues

agenda” (e.g., “inclusion in existing nondis-
crimination laws,” “securing equal
Notions of a so-called “homosexual employment protections”)
agenda” are rhetorical inventions of anti-
LGBTQI+ extremists who seek to create LGBTQI+ people are motivated by the same
a climate of fear by portraying the pursuit hopes, concerns, and desires as anyone
of equal rights and opportunity for queer else. They seek to be able to earn a living,
people as sinister. be safe in their communities, and take care
of loved ones. Their commitment to equality
and acceptance is shared by many allies and
advocates who are not queer.

“special rights” “equal rights” or “equal protection”

Anti-LGBTQI+ extremists frequently char-

acterize equal protection for queer people
as “special rights” to incite opposition to
such things as relationship recognition and
inclusive nondiscrimination laws.

21 A Reporting Guide for Journalists


“fag,” “faggot,” “dyke,” “homo,” “sodomite,” “tranny,” “she-male,” “moffie,”

“isitabane/stabane,” “ongqingili,” “usis-bhuti,” etc.

These and similar derogatory terms should not be used except in direct quotes that
reveal the bias of the person quoted. To avoid giving such words credibility, reporters
can also say, “The source used a derogatory word for a [lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgen-
der/queer/intersex/etc.] person.”

“deviant,” “disordered,” “dysfunctional,” “diseased,” “perverted,” etc.

The notion that being LGBTQI+ is a psychological disorder has been discredited by
prominent psychological and psychiatric associations since the 1970s. Today, words such
as “deviant,” “diseased,” and “disordered” are often used to portray LGBTQI+ people
as less than human, mentally ill, or as dangers to society. Words such as these should be
avoided in stories about queer communities. If they must be used, they should be quoted
directly in a way that clearly reveals the bias of the person being quoted.

Associating LGBTQI+ people with pedophilia, child abuse, sexual abuse,

bestiality, bigamy, polygamy, adultery, or incest

Such claims, innuendoes, and associations are often used to insinuate that LGBTQI+
people pose a threat to society, to families, and to children in particular. Such assertions
and insinuations are defamatory and should be avoided. They may be included in direct
quotes that clearly reveal a source’s bias, but only if accompanied by accurate context
and information that challenges and refutes any dangerous myths.

For additional guidance on SSOGIE terminology, consult the following sources:

• Iranti’s 2019 Reference Guide for Media Practitioners and News Outlets17 provides a glos-
sary of terms for journalists covering LGBTQI+ issues in Africa and specific tips for writing
about transgender, bisexual, and intersex people.
• The Association of LGBTQ Journalists (NLGJA) has a Stylebook Supplement on Lesbian,
Gay, Bisexual, & Transgender Terminology18 that is intended to complement the Associat-
ed Press stylebook and those of individual newsrooms.
• The Gender Spectrum Guide to Gender Terminology19 explains non-binary gender notions and
includes relevant terminology.
• The Center for Integration and Improvement of Journalism’s Diversity Style Guide20
has an LGBTQ glossary21 of relevant terms.

For guidance on religion-related terminology, check out the Religion Stylebook, an easy-
to-use guide created for journalists who report on religion in the mainstream media. It’s an
independent supplement to The Associated Press Stylebook and is a service of the Religion
News Association. It can be found at religionstylebook.com22.

22 A Reporting Guide for Journalists


23 A Reporting Guide for Journalists
Sorting SSOGIE Myths from Facts

Audiences rely on journalists to help over sexual health choices, removal of

them sort fact from fiction. With “fake children from parental custody, housing
news” flying around social media, real, discrimination, employment discrim-
accurate, and factual news has never ination, educational discrimination,
been more important. healthcare discrimination, mental health
issues, suicide attempts, homeless-
Because SSOGIE issues are sometimes ness…the list goes on.
considered taboo, myths around
sexual and gender minorities often go Below you’ll find a mix of common
unchecked and unchallenged, even in tropes and truths about sexual and gen-
professional news reports. The “How der minorities. Cover the right column
NOT to Report on SSOGIE Issues” with your hand or a piece of paper and
chapter of this guide highlights some read each statement on the left from top
of the sensational and false stereotypes to bottom, revealing and distinguishing
that consistently crop up in regional and myths from realities as you go.
global reporting.
The following table was inspired by and
The perpetuation of these myths can partially adapted from earlier guides
contribute to inequality, human rights produced by Gay and Lesbian Memory in
violations, privacy violations, gen- Africa (GALA) and Taboom Media.
der-based violence, physical and sexual
violence, stigma, arrest, unlawful deten-
tion, prosecution, denial of autonomy

24 A Reporting Guide for Journalists


Myth: Sexual orientation is an individ-

ual’s innate and enduring romantic,
sexual, and/or emotional attraction
to other people, with regards to sex
and/or gender. Prayer will not change
it. Although “conversion therapy”
remains legal in many places, the
People can change their sexual orienta- American Psychological Association
tion through prayer condemns it23 for representing “a
significant risk of harm by subjecting
individuals to forms of treatment which
have not been scientifically validated
and by undermining self-esteem when
sexual orientation fails to change.” The
same risks extend to deliverance and
exorcism attempts.
Reality: Many sexual and gender
LGBTQI+ people are capable of having minorities have been happily partnered
healthy, long-term relationships for decades. Seek out such sources in
your community.
Reality: See other sections of this guide
for some of the disturbing persecution
Sexual and gender minorities often face
LGBTQI+ people face merely for who
higher rates of violence and discrimina-
they love or how they look or identify.
tion than the general population
Consult local human rights groups and
reliable authorities for statistics.
Reality: Similar to how every society has
left-handed people, every society has
sexual and gender diversity. Research
Every society has sexual and gender has shown that intersex conditions,
minorities homosexuality, and gender nonconfor-
mity are universal realities. They are not
confined to certain races, ethnicities, or
geographic borders.
Myth: Most credible medical and health
professionals consider exorcism and
Same-sex attraction is caused by witch-
deliverance attempts to be ineffective,
craft and evil spirits
psychologically harmful, and often physi-
cally dangerous.

25 A Reporting Guide for Journalists


Myth: This disparaging myth has been

widely disproved24. Consult credible
Gay men are more likely to abuse
local and international statistics and
sources, including the American Psy-
chological Association25.

Reality: See Human Rights Campaign’s

Faith Positions guide26 and the books
Behold, I make all things new: What do
the sacred texts of Judaism, Christianity
and Islam really say in regard to human
Not all congregations are against homo-
sexuality?27 and I Am Divine, So Are
You: How Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism
and Hinduism affirm the dignity of queer
identities and sexualities28 for examples
of inclusive and affirming denominations
and congregations.

Myth: Major international mental health

Homosexuality is a mental disorder organizations have long agreed that
homosexuality is not a mental disorder.

Myth: Speak with a diverse range of

LGBTQI+ people in your community.
Some may have been abused as chil-
People are LGBTQI+ because they were
dren, as is true of the general popula-
abused as children
tion, but most will say their identities
and expressions are not a result of
childhood abuse.

Myth: Same-sex attraction is not a men-

tal disorder that needs to be “cured,”
If a lesbian has sex with a man she will
and sexual orientation is enduring.
be “cured” and become straight
So-called “corrective rape” is a serious
criminal violation of human rights.

Scientists still don’t know what deter- Reality: Theories abound, but none
mines a person’s sexual orientation have been decisively proven.

26 A Reporting Guide for Journalists


Myth: In countries where child

adoption by same-sex parents is legal,
research has shown that those children
Children of same-sex parents will grow
are not more likely to be gay than the
up to be same-sex attracted
general population. Sexual orientation
is innate and enduring, not a result of
one’s upbringing.

Reality: Gender expression may be dis-

You can’t tell a person’s sexual orienta- played, but sexual orientation is innate
tion just by looking at them and cannot be determined merely by
looking at someone.

Reality: The words “woman” and

“man” typically refer to a person’s gen-
der identity, “masculine” and “feminine”
to gender expression, and “male” and
A transgender woman is a woman “female” to biological sex. If a transgen-
der person identifies as a woman, she is
a woman regardless of biological sex,
sexual orientation, or gender expres-

Myth: This is not true, and many

Same-sex relationships always have
LGBTQI+ people consider the premise
“male” and “female” roles

People become queer from hanging out Myth: Sexual and gender diversity is
with other queer people not contagious.

27 A Reporting Guide for Journalists


28 A Reporting Guide for Journalists
How to Report on SSOGIE Issues

The following reporting tips expand on concepts that might be unfamiliar to

key principles in our Reporting Reso- your audience while avoiding the urge
lution (Chapter 2). We cite real-world to oversimplify. When covering sen-
media clips, some produced by our sitive news, be especially diligent in
past trainee journalists, to demonstrate verifying all details with your sources,
best practices you can replicate and and don’t be afraid to ask for clarifica-
highlight cautionary tales you should tion when needed.
avoid repeating.
Headline: “New door for at-risk
Additional trainee stories, including men” - The Nation, Malawi, 6
video and audio clips, can be found October 201730
under the “Stories” tab at Taboom- 29. These stories evolved This story gives men who have sex with
under Taboom’s editorial guidance men (MSMs) a platform to voice their
and were published by the trainees’ concerns and highlight challenges
home media outlets before appear- they face when seeking health care.
ing on our website. It provides a public service, informing
MSMs where they can find non-dis-
criminatory clinics. Although the story
1. EDUCATE AND INFORM contains some problematic phrasing
THROUGH NUANCED AND and terminology issues, it successfully
SENSITIVE COVERAGE educates readers and provides critical
information to key populations.
While some media outlets sensation-
alize sexual and gender minorities to
entertain, you should strive to educate
and inform audiences. Avoid melodra-
matic depictions in favor of nuanced and
sensitive coverage of SSOGIE issues and If a source repeats a myth we know is
lived realities. Use accurate, accessible false, we can either exclude it from our
language and clearly explain terms and reporting altogether or include it along-

29 A Reporting Guide for Journalists

side accurate information that reveals the This op-ed, not a traditional news article,
source’s ignorance or bias. Source state- was published shortly before Kenya’s High
ments that are beliefs or opinions rather Court considered the constitutionality of
than facts should be contextualized penalizing same-sex sexual activity. The
alongside others’ beliefs or opinions. op-ed effectively challenges common
These statements should be balanced myths and stereotypes concerning
and weighted appropriately based on LGBTQI+ people and champions dignity,
broader community sentiment. equality, and human rights for all.

Headline: “LGBT community still

faces high levels of violence – 3. INCLUDE MODERATE AND
report” - News24, South Africa, 4 DIVERSE SOURCES
December 201731

There are seldom just “two sides” to any

This article documents a report story, and every person’s story is unique.
from the Centre for Risk Analysis at Rather than trying to paint SSOGIE issues
the South African Institute of Race as black and white, explore the grey.
Relations (IRR). The story and report That’s where you’ll find the most inter-
highlight some of the real discrimina- esting and important stories. If you only
tion, violence, and oppression sexual quote sources who hold polar opposite
and gender minorities continue to face views on an issue, you’re missing the
in South Africa. Citing survey results, vast majority of people whose opinions
it challenges the common assumption and beliefs fall somewhere in between.
that South Africa’s human rights-affirm- “Exploring the grey” means speaking
ing constitution and equality courts to moderate and diverse sources rather
adequately protect LGBTQI+ people. than just the extremes. The more diverse
sources you include in your reporting,
Headline: “Understanding the
the more accurately you’ll be able to
gay rights case and Penal Code
portray highly complex and emotionally
penalties” - The Star, Kenya, 24
charged issues.
February 2018 32
Headline: “Namibian Christians
vest hopes in ‘pray the gay away’
tactic” - The Namibian, Namibia,
16 December 201633

Sources in this article about “deliverance

ceremonies” at Pentecostal churches in
Namibia include two gay men subjected
to the abuse, a government official, a
Members of Kenya’s LGBTQI+ community pastor, the head of a LGBTQI+ faith-based
hold a sign during a demonstration. Reli-
nonprofit organization, a psychologist,
gion News Service photo by Fredrick Nzwili.

30 A Reporting Guide for Journalists

and the author’s independent research. Headline: “The Muslims who will
The sources’ beliefs and opinions are not choose between their god
layered and complex. Rather than relying and being gay” - Mail & Guard-
on lazy caricatures to express “opposing” ian, South Africa, 18 April 201934
views, the author manages to include
sources who reflect a wide range of This feature story about queer Muslims
nuanced and at times contradictory opin- in Cape Town profiles three men. Rather
ions, resulting in a far richer story. than writing it as a traditional news
story and including a range of “expert”
sources and statistics, the author
zooms in on three characters, captures
vignettes of their lives, and chronicles
their intimate thoughts. It is clear that the
author reported this story over several
days and worked hard to develop trust
and rapport with his sources. Their
quotes are prioritized and take up as
much space as the author’s narration.
The nonprofit Tulinam held a dialogue By allowing sources to speak for them-
workshop with female church leaders in selves and in their own voices, the story
Otjiwarongo, Namibia, on 6 August 2016. shines light on the complexities of being
Photo courtesy of Madelene Isaacks. queer and Muslim and succeeds in
engaging the reader.
TO SPEAK FOR THEMSELVES Headline: “Transgender Zim-
AND IN THEIR OWN VOICES babweans lack gender-affirm-
ing healthcare amid economic
“Nothing about us without us” is a pop- turmoil” - Queerstion Media,
ular rallying cry among SSOGIE rights Zimbabwe, 2 February 202035
activists and other marginalized groups.
The phrase usually applies to policymak- This story features the voices of four
ing but is also relevant to your reporting. transgender people in Zimbabwe who
When covering SSOGIE issues, you struggle to access counseling and
should (safely) include the voices and hormone therapy. A health expert from
perspectives of SSOGIE minorities. the United States is referenced as a
They know more about the issues that secondary source but contributes little
affect their lives than any outside expert, compared to these primary sources’
government statement, or high-level
firsthand accounts. The author’s deci-
report could possibly capture. While a
sion to prioritize these sources over
diverse range of sources is crucial, your
those of detached officials or authori-
most important sources and those most
ties keeps the spotlight on the affected
likely to engage your audience are those
community and gives their voices the
at the heart of your story.

31 A Reporting Guide for Journalists

authority they deserve as experts on pronouns when you start the conversa-
their own lived realities. tion. If your source doesn’t immediately
reciprocate and tell you theirs, you can
ask what pronouns they use when you
5. USE SOURCES’ PREFERRED ask how to spell or pronounce their
TERMINOLOGY WHEN name, signaling that this is just a normal
APPROPRIATE part of the reporting process to help
ensure accuracy.
If a source tells you, “I’m a Christian,” are
Headline: “Transgender Case
you going to second-guess it? Proba-
Postponed To December” - The
bly not. You could ask how often she
Monitor, Botswana, 7 August
attends church or quiz her on chapters
of the Bible, but to what end? If a person
identifies as Christian, and if that fact
is relevant to your story, take her word This story about Tsepho Ricki Kgositau,
for it and report accordingly. You can’t a transgender woman and prominent
peer into a source’s heart or mind to human rights activist who successfully
determine their “true” beliefs. Some sued the Botswana government for refus-
truths and identities are unverifiable and ing to recognize her gender, correctly
should be taken at face value. uses she/her pronouns throughout, in
accordance with Kgositau’s preferred
The same logic applies to a source’s gender pronouns and identity. It is a
sexual orientation or gender identity. If a well-reported piece that is neutral in
source tells you they are gay or transgen- tone and lays out some of the many
der, and if that information is somehow obstacles Kgositau endured.
relevant to your story, you can ask them
Headline: “I’m trapped in a
to elaborate, but there’s no way (and no
woman’s body” - Daily Monitor,
need) to verify the statement’s veracity.
Uganda, 10 July 201737
That information is true to the source,
which makes it true for your reporting.
The same goes for gender pronouns. If This story about a transgender man does
a transgender woman uses “she” pro- the opposite. The author repeatedly mis-
nouns or a genderqueer source wants genders the source. “‘I’m a man,’ she says
to be referred to as “they,” who are you softly,” (the author quoting the source but
to deny them that basic dignity? Sexual referring to him as “she” rather than “he)
and gender minority sources should be is perhaps the most egregious example of
afforded the same respect and benefit of this misgendering.
the doubt you would give any source.

If you’re not sure which gender pro-

nouns a source uses, an easy way to
broach the subject is by stating your own

32 A Reporting Guide for Journalists

6. PROTECT THE SAFETY AND your newsroom before publishing the
SECURITY OF SOURCES, source’s identity. Your editors and pub-
SUBJECTS, COMMUNITIES, lishers may ask you to reveal the source’s
AND YOURSELF identity to confirm that your story is true,
but there’s no need to share potentially
compromising information with friends
The above story from Uganda (“I’m
or other newsroom colleagues. Remem-
trapped in a woman’s body”38) and its
ber that what’s in the “public interest”
aftereffects demonstrate the danger of
isn’t whatever interests the public.
not respecting source safety. The author
writes that the source prefers not to use
Doctors vow to “do no harm.” Our goal
his full name but publishes it multiple
as journalists is to minimize it, which
times along with the neighborhood
sometimes means anonymizing at-risk
where he lives and a clear photo of his
sources. Ask your editors how your
face. After this story was published, the
newsroom has handled anonymity in the
source was kidnapped.
past. If they don’t have a standard proce-
dure, consider the following formula-
Even if a source consents to having his
tions when introducing a new source
photo taken and gives you his full name
who requires anonymity in your story:
during an interview, a responsible jour-
nalist should still obtain “informed con- • “John, whose name has been
sent” before publishing any identifiable changed to protect his identity, is a
information if circumstances suggest farmer…”
that the source may face elevated risk
of potential harm. “Informed consent” • “John (not his real name) is a farmer…”
means explaining to your source where
• “John* is a farmer…” At the top or
and when your story will be published, bottom of your story, explain that as-
outlining realistic dangers that might terisks indicate those sources’ names
arise, and then giving them adequate have been changed.
time to privately reflect before agreeing
to let you publish their personal details. • “Richard, whose surname has been
Sources should be reminded that any withheld to protect his safety, is a
news can reach anyone online. Your goal farmer…”
isn’t to scare sources away but rather to
• “The source, who requested ano-
protect them and safeguard your own
nymity for his safety, is a farmer…”
conscience, knowing you did everything
an ethical journalist should do to inform
If your source has a particularly common
them of potential risks.
first name, you may deem it safe to use if
the surname is excluded. If you decide
Even if you obtain a source’s informed
it necessary to use a pseudonym/alias,
consent, you should still independently
try to keep it culturally relevant so as
evaluate safety concerns and consult
not to distract or confuse your reader

33 A Reporting Guide for Journalists

(“Christine” is not a good substitute for peace she was seeking, she found ridi-
“Mohammed”). There is no need to cule and hatred.” Remember Thandie’s
invent a fake surname. Using first names story when a vulnerable or marginalized
for pseudonymous sources and sur- source agrees to be interviewed on the
names for identifiable sources can help record and — before you rush to publish
remind your audience which are which. — think through what might happen if
you reveal their identity.
Generalize other details about anony-
mous sources so as not to accidentally
identify them. If your source is 33 and 7. ILLUSTRATE YOUR STORY
his age is relevant to the story, write he is WITH RESPONSIBLE AND
in his 30s. If he lives in “a small village in RELEVANT IMAGES
northeastern Nigeria,” write exactly that
rather than the village’s specific name.
Even radio stories need compelling
If he is a receptionist at a well-known
photos or graphics to boost their reach
hotel, write he works in hospitality.
on social media. Whatever medium you
work in, images probably accompany
For more tips on protecting sources,
most if not all of your stories. Chapter
vulnerable communities, and yourself,
10 on Source Safety and Digital Security
see Chapters 10 and 11.
outlines how to responsibly film or
Headline: “Torturous life of a mi- photograph vulnerable sources without
nority” - Malawi News Agency, revealing their identities, but sometimes
Malawi, 31 August 201739 we don’t have the time or budget to
source original visuals.
This story about “Thandie,” the pseud-
onym given to a lesbian source in Mala- When choosing stock photos or images
wi, offers a cautionary tale for journalists. from your archive, make sure they are
After a local newspaper published her relevant. If your story is about Ghana’s
real name and her story in 2013, Thandie transgender community, don’t illustrate
was “shamed in public, denied shelter, it with a photo of two white women
and disowned by her parents.” Her holding hands or getting married. Not
business lost clients and she faced daily only would that photo be irrelevant, it
waves of hate messages on Facebook might also reinforce the false notion that
and other platforms. Her father, who sexual and gender diversity is a “Western
was excommunicated from his church, phenomenon”. It’s also important not to
and her mother, who faced constant oversexualize SSOGIE communities. If
ridicule after the story was published, your story is about healthcare discrimi-
pressured Thandie to have a baby with nation, don’t illustrate it with racy photos
a man, which she did. Thandie agreed of shirtless men in bed. Generic rainbow
to reveal her identity in the original 2013 flags and gender symbols might signal
story “because she wanted to make to your audience that the story is about
peace with herself. Instead of finding the SSOGIE issues, but you can do better.

34 A Reporting Guide for Journalists

If using images from your archive, be 8. TELL STORIES OF TRIUMPH
careful not to include faces of people
who are not in the story. If you write a
Marginalized sexual and gender minorities
story about how gay men were arrested
often face disproportionate pain, suffering,
at a popular restaurant and accompany
and abuse, but they also experience joy,
it with an old photo of people dining at
love, and triumph just like anyone else.
that restaurant, readers might mistakenly
Most stories about LGBTQI+ communi-
assume the people in the photo were
ties dwell too heavily on the negative.
the ones arrested. Always remember
When journalists frame SSOGIE minorities
the right to privacy and strive to include
exclusively as victims, they strip away their
relevant, accurate, and humanizing
agency and power. Yes, sexual and gender
minorities often face more hurdles and dis-
Example: This Is How the Heart crimination than the general population,
Beats: LGBTQ East Africa40 but their lives are more than gloom and
doom. When speaking with sources and
looking for stories, no matter how grim the
This book, published in 2020, is part of
subject, keep an eye out for silver linings.
the Diverse Humanity LGBTQ-Themed
Surviving persecution requires resilience,
Photo Book Series showcasing the rich
which often translates into hope. Seek out
diversity and complexity of LGBTQ com-
and tell stories of people making a positive
munities around the world. It demon-
difference in their communities and
strates the power and versatility of
triumphing over adversity.
photography as a storytelling medium.
Headline: “Uganda’s LGBT faith
For good examples of shorter photo leaders say God’s love is un-
essays, see: conditional” - Religion News
Service, Uganda, 29 November
Headline: “For Indonesia’s Bugi-
nese community, trans women
play key role in Muslim wed-
dings” - Religion News Service, This story profiles five religious leaders
Indonesia, 14 August 201541 and community activists at the forefront
of Uganda’s LGBTQI+ equality move-
Headline: “For trans Muslims in ment who kept their faith after being
Malaysia, daily life brings strug- ostracized by their religious communi-
gles, triumphs” - Religion News ties. Many authors would have focused
Service, Malaysia, 28 July 201542 solely on the struggles these leaders
endured. By emphasizing their love and
resilience, the author chooses to inspire
rather than depress readers.

35 A Reporting Guide for Journalists


36 A Reporting Guide for Journalists
How NOT to Report on

Most of this guide focuses on best or those of the loudest or most extreme
practices, but it’s worth flagging some voices dictate your coverage.
problematic reporting examples we’ve
come across so that you can avoid mak- Here are some common tropes and
ing the same mistakes. pitfalls to avoid when reporting on
SSOGIE issues.
Sloppy or sensational reporting on
sensitive issues can cause real harm to
vulnerable communities, harm that can 1. DON’T LET ISOLATED
lead to discrimination or violence. In OUTLIERS SPEAK FOR
October 2010, the Ugandan tabloid ENTIRE COMMUNITIES
Rolling Stone published an article with
the headline “100 PICTURES OF UGAN- Headline: “Men made me a lesbian
DA’S TOP HOMOS LEAK” alongside the after raping me three times” -
caption “Hang Them”. Three months The Standard, Kenya, 17 January
later, Ugandan LGBTQI+ rights activist 201344
David Kato was murdered.
In this story from Nairobi, a lesbian
While normal standards of good journal- woman attributes her sexual orientation
ism obviously apply to covering SSOGIE to sexual violence. Few sexual minori-
issues, be extra careful about your ties would agree with this parallel, but
framing and presentation. If sources you absent any other voices in the article,
interview demonize or dehumanize indi- the subject’s controversial claim stands
viduals or entire communities, consult as authoritative testimony. While the
the hate speech and dangerous speech subject is certainly entitled to her belief,
tests outlined in Chapter 3 of this guide. it should be balanced by a range of
Your job as a journalist is to present fair opinions and testimonies so that readers
and accurate portraits of people in your are not left to falsely believe that sexual
community. Don’t let your own biases violence determines sexual orientation.

37 A Reporting Guide for Journalists

2. DON’T LEND FALSE versial, unconventional, or patently
CREDIBILITY TO false views, beware of lending them
UNINFORMED “EXPERTS” undue authority and credibility. Speak
to a variety of sources to deduce and
Headline: “Is there anything present mainstream professional views
like a gay gene?” - Daily Nation, on the matter. If you determine that your
Kenya, 23 April 2013 45 original expert source is completely off
the mark, you may decide not to include
their views at all or to include them
In a column called “Medical Clinic,”
with proper context to expose them as
written by a medical doctor, the author
incorrect or extreme. Beware of implying
quotes his former professor’s false and
false balance on issues that have already
misguided views about homosexuality:
achieved general consensus.

In his opinion, the majority of men

attracted to other men were not neces- 3. AVOID PUBLISHING IMAGES
sarily born gay. They do not have the OR DETAILS OF SSOGIE
characteristic ‘gay’ look, and it would be MINORITIES WITHOUT
difficult to tell such from a ‘straight’ chap. FIRST NOTIFYING THEM
“So how do they become gay?” OR OBTAINING CONSENT
he questioned.
Headline: “Lesbian pastor vs
“Men are indoctrinated into a gay
church” - The Cape Times, South
lifestyle at an early age when they are
Africa, 22 May 201346
impressionable,” he explained. “This is
usually by a friend or older boys. How-
ever, the stimulation of the prostrate [sic] Although the text of this story was
is what makes them seek out men time ethically sound, the massive photo that
and time again. This eventually develops accompanied it on the front page of
into a lifestyle.” Cape Town’s most widely circulated
newspaper was problematic. The
The above statements, presented as minister profiled was out to friends,
medical fact, are nonsensical. So is the family, and colleagues, but her wife
article’s excerpt, which reads, “Is homo- was not. The front-page photo of the
sexuality genetic or is it a learned behav- married couple smiling side-by-side was
ior bordering on addiction? All medical published without the subjects’ consent,
indicators point to personal choice and a legally defensible decision given that it
conditioning rather than genes.” was taken in a public place, but one that
raises ethical concerns and created real
When quoting doctors, lawyers, problems for the minister’s wife, who
psychologists, academics, and other was outed against her will. When photo-
“expert” sources who hold contro- graphing or covering sensitive SSOGIE

38 A Reporting Guide for Journalists

issues, confirm that sources know what gerous considering attitudes toward
will be done with the material produced LGBTQI+ people in Malawi. Listing the
and that they consent to being quoted specific village where the subject is
or featured. from (and perhaps still lived at the
time) is also dangerous. The author
deliberately misgenders the subject
(“man posing as woman,” “man
alleged to have been pretending to be
a female prostitute”) and makes refer-
ence to police officers laughing at the
Headline: “I Got Three Grindr subject’s genitals, which is particularly
Dates in an Hour in the Olympic demeaning. The details and tone of
Village” - The Daily Beast, Brazil, this story are unnecessarily salacious
August 11, 201647 and violate serious journalism ethics.

In this article from the 2016 Summer

Olympics, a straight reporter used the 5. DON’T PUBLISH IF YOU’VE
gay social network app Grindr to chat NOT DONE YOUR RESEARCH
with athletes -- some of them closeted
and from countries where coming out Headline: “House to address
can be dangerous -- and published matter of intersex people” - Daily
potentially identifiable details about Nation, Kenya, 10 October 201649
them. This practice, sometimes called
Grindr-baiting, is intrusive and uneth- While the author’s seemingly objective
ical. SSOGIE minorities should not be
approach to covering intersex issues is
exploited for sensational or salacious
admirable, his ignorance of the actual
entertainment coverage.
issues and misuse of terminology do more
Headline: “MANERELA faults to confuse than inform the reader.
Malawi police over arrest of
man posing as woman” - Nyasa The author characterizes intersex people
Times, Malawi, 20 July 2017 48 as “victims” who “suffer” from a “rare
gender disorder,” a “gender identity
The shirtless “perp walk” photo of a disorder that makes it difficult to determine
transgender woman that accompanies whether they are male or female at birth,
this story is dehumanizing and dan-

39 A Reporting Guide for Journalists

though their gender becomes apparent as lifestyle should remain private, and they
they grow.” have a right to it just like anybody else,”
said a lecturer at Egerton University.
The author quotes “expert opinion” as
saying, “the victims have both female Mr Nelson Njema, an accountant with an
and male sexual organs at birth, both oil firm, says being gay is just like being
poorly formed.” He quotes an MP as say- impotent or a hermaphrodite.
ing, “an intersex person requires at least
He says gays and lesbians have the right
four chromosome tests to determine
to workplace benefits and respect like
their gender” and implies that “correc-
anybody else.
tive surgery” is required.
Do you turn away people from the work-
The author’s victimizing language, place on account of physical disability
muddling of gender and biological sex, that does not in any way affect their
and reliance on false information from productivity? He poses.
“expert” sources show that he hasn’t
done his homework. The absence of any But Mr Anthony Wainaina, a second-
intersex voices in the piece may shed ary school teacher, differs. He has no
some light on these oversights. Avoid patience with gay mannerisms. “They dye
the rush to publish, reach out to relevant and plait their hair and manicure their
sources, and research the issue in-depth hands at the expense of doing any real
before confusing your audience with work,” he says.
misrepresentations and falsehoods.
He quotes the bible, terming homosex-
uality as the most serious transgression
6. DON’T LET VILIFYING next to murder.
UNCHALLENGED These notions that SSOGIE minorities go
on sexual recruitment drives, that being
Headline: “Homosexuality finds gay is a disability, and that gay people
room in the office” - The Stan- are too distracted grooming themselves
dard, Kenya, 23 October 200950 at the office to get any work done are
frankly ridiculous. They would seem
almost humorous if such stereotypical
Your sources might say some pretty out- beliefs were not so widely and genuinely
landish things about sexual and gender held. Journalists have a duty to challenge
minorities. Take a look at the quotes sources who parrot vilifying stereotypes.
in this story about workplace SSOGIE If such quotes are somehow deemed
issues in Kenya: newsworthy, they should be contex-
tualized and balanced with alternative
“I think we should not shun gays unduly opinions that more closely reflect reality.
so long as they do not embark on a
recruitment drive in the workplace. Their

40 A Reporting Guide for Journalists

7. BEWARE OF BOGUS SURVEYS National Human Rights Commission
AND STATISTICS report that recommended the decrim-
inalization of homosexuality and same-
Headline: “Nkurunziza furious sex marriage:
as Senate rejects anti-gay law”
- The East African, Burundi, 28 Picture 21st Century Kenya as a country
March 200951 where same-sex marriages are legal. A
man falls head over heels and marries
a “bearded sister.” As time goes by, the
This article makes numerous references
couple takes to the children’s department
to “the roughly 400 gay people living in
over that small matter of adopting a
Burundi,” a country of more than 10 mil-
future voter.
lion people, without ever citing a source.
Statistics concerning sexual orientation
The child duly goes to school where the
and gender identity are extremely
couple dutifully attend visiting and Par-
unreliable given that such data must be
ent’s Days. One is daddy, the other the
self-reported, often in societies where
“male mother.” Now imagine the child
homosexuality is stigmatized or unlawful.
filling forms with spaces for “Father’s and
That being said, the proportion of sexual
Mother’s” names. Picture too, trying to
minorities among Burundi’s general
introduce them in a social gathering.
population is certainly above 0.004%
if surveys from other parts of the world
This is not far-fetched.
provide any guidance. Be skeptical of
any SSOGIE statistics you come across,
The unnamed author’s fearmongering
and always check and report the source
and reliance on invented terminology to
if you do use numbers in your stories.
introduce a news report is irresponsible,
unprofessional, and unethical. Such
8. DON’T PANDER TO YOUR framing does a disservice to our readers
AUDIENCE’S FEARS and should be avoided at all costs.

Headline: “I’m your dad, he’s

your papa” - Daily Nation, Ken-
ya, 22 May 201252

Our audiences’ biases, prejudices, and

fears around SSOGIE issues often stem
from ignorance or misinformation. Our For more advice on what NOT to do, see
job as journalists is to inform the public, “Terms to Avoid” in Chapter 4 of this guide
not to prey on their fears for our own and “Offensive Terms vs Preferred Terms”
financial gain. Consider the following in Iranti’s 2019 Reference Guide for Media
introduction to a story about a Kenyan Practitioners and News Outlets53.

41 A Reporting Guide for Journalists


42 A Reporting Guide for Journalists
Religious Perspectives on

Most perpetrators of anti-LGBTQI+ hate — that include scroll fragments discovered

especially parachurch organizations, reli- in the past 100 years. They sometimes
gious entities, and ideology/values-based rely on versions of the Bible that are
groups — portray their viewpoints as the known to include translational errors,
will of a supreme being, be it God, Brah- such as the King James Version. Another
man, Allah, YHWH, or something else. common problem is inconsistent appli-
Many of these groups justify their hate by cation of literal and contextual interpre-
plucking isolated verses from religious tative methods. Choosing to follow only
texts that support their beliefs. some scripture word-for-word while
ignoring verses that don’t align with
Differing interpretations of the same one’s worldview reflects a somewhat
lines of scripture can affect how people arbitrary, reactive, and limited under-
dress, what they eat, how rituals are per- standing of and approach to scripture.
formed, whether women can become
clergy, what children are taught about The greatest challenge to under-
the Earth’s creation, and countless other standing religion and its relationship
aspects of human belief and expression. to LGBTQI+ people is the diversity
of viewpoints. Views differ among
Hate groups that cite scripture to religions but also among individuals,
condemn, demonize, or manipulate generations, denominations, and
sexual and gender minorities come groups within each religion.
from diverse faiths and denominations,
yet often use similar tactics. Rather than It’s therefore important to distinguish
employing contextual interpretation to between a religion’s formal or official
decipher scripture’s underlying intent, stance on a topic—any topic—and how
many use outdated, incomplete, or practitioners and leaders may interpret
isolated texts to justify their beliefs. or ignore that stance.
Pentecostal believers, especially, reject
modern scholarship and new translations Despite public opinion in many countries

43 A Reporting Guide for Journalists

becoming more accepting of LGBTQI+ CHRISTIANITY
people, representatives of the world’s
two largest religious groups—the Roman
Catholic Church and Sunni Islam—con-
tinue to issue “official” interpretations
of scriptures that are hurtful and harmful
to sexual and gender minorities. At the
same time, queer Catholics and Sunni
Muslims work in ministries or parachurch
groups fighting for greater rights for sex-
ual and gender minorities within those
religions. Other faith groups under the
broad umbrella of Islam and Christianity, A worshipper falls to the floor during a deliv-
erance ceremony at the Mountain of Fire
particularly some mainline Protestants
and Miracle Ministries prayer service called
and Sufi Muslims, already welcome “Power Must Change Hand” in Lagos,
LGBTQI+ individuals and consider sexual Nigeria. Photo by Andrew Esiebo, used with
and gender minorities to be wholly his permission.
accepted members of their congrega-
tions and clergy. Understanding this The world’s largest religion is Christian-
nuance will help journalists determine ity, but there is little unity among individ-
which religious groups and individuals ual Christian groups in terms of who can
promote equality, which oppose it, and be ordained clergy or whether sexual
which actively fund or coordinate anti- and gender minorities are fully welcome
LGBTQI+ campaigns. to join a congregation.

This section provides a small window The Metropolitan Community Church,

into the diverse viewpoints major world which has congregations in Kenya and
religions and belief systems hold toward South Africa, supports full partnership
LGBTQI+ people. and ordination of LGBTQI+ members.
Other African churches that support
LGBTQI+ rights to varying degrees
include the Uniting Reformed Church in
South Africa, the Uniting Presbyterian
The Abrahamic religions of Christianity, Church of Southern Africa, the Method-
Islam, and Judaism all share a common ist Church of Southern Africa, the Dutch
history, narratives, central figures, and Reformed Church in South Africa and the
even some religious obligations. Slightly Anglican Church of South Africa. Cape
varied retellings of these faiths’ ancient Town’s Anglican Archbishop Thabo
scriptures and rules are often used to Makgoba supports same-sex marriage,
justify anti-LGBTQI+ bias. making him an unusual proponent within
Anglicanism. Some of the aforemen-
tioned groups do not allow non-celibate

44 A Reporting Guide for Journalists

gay clergy and do not bless formal are in biblical books thought to be
same-sex marriages. Other churches written by the Apostle Paul, including
in Africa that are outreach ministries Romans 1:26-27; Corinthians 6:9-10;
of religious groups based largely in and Timothy 1:10. These passages,
the United States reject any LGBTQI+ depending on language and version of
rights or affirmations. Such churches translation, present male and female as
include the Assemblies of God, Jeho- complementary binaries and the only
vah’s Witnesses, Mormons, Orthodox divinely intended partnership. They also
Christian groups, Southern Baptists, discuss prohibitions or punishments for
and many independent Pentecostal same-sex relationships. Other passages,
churches. Beyond those mentioned cited as upholding heterosexual unions
above, non-celibate sexual minorities are and marriage as the ideal relationship,
prohibited from participating as clergy include Genesis 1-26-31 and 2:18-24 in
or active lay leaders in most Christian the Old Testament and Matthew 19:4-6;
religious groups around the world, 1 Corinthians 7:1–40; and Ephesians
including the Roman Catholic Church
5:22–33 in the New Testament.
and Eastern Orthodox groups.
Modern scholarship since the 19th cen-
Sexual and gender minorities who grow
tury, however, interprets biblical verses
up amid religious groups that preach
in more complex ways, especially in light
and teach anti-LGBTQI+ viewpoints
of ongoing discoveries of ancient scrolls,
such as “love the sinner, hate the sin”
and a growing understanding of the
often suffer from great emotional,
ways humans edited sacred scrolls for
spiritual, and psychological harm. Some
their own political, social, and cultural
denominations or groups will even
purposes. Scholars also understand
attempt “conversion therapy” to make
more about the literary devices used in
queer people straight or gender-con-
biblical storytelling, including poetry,
forming—a practice that psychological
song, and allegory. The literal interpreta-
and psychiatric associations around the
tion of individually plucked passages—
world condemn as damaging, fraudu-
devoid of cultural context and disre-
lent, and ineffective.
garding surrounding and sometimes
contradictory passages, is viewed as
Core disagreements among Christian problematic by many biblical scholars.
groups over LGBTQI+ rights most often
relate to interpretations of scripture, as is
Scholars point to the dangers of singling
true among other faiths. Some Chris-
out individual verses as “proof” of God’s
tians believe that several well-known
word when applied to today’s world.
passages contain language that in
Such “proof-texting” takes Bible verses
English and other translations condemns
out of context or to support one’s own
same-sex relationships. These Old Tes-
biases and interpretations. It is not a
tament passages are Genesis 19: 1-26;
new problem. For example, in U.S. and
Judges 19; Leviticus 18:22 and Leviticus
British fights to end slavery, proof-tex-
20:13. The New Testament passages

45 A Reporting Guide for Journalists

ting was used to both support slavery minister of the Methodist Church of
and to argue for its end. Biblical verses Southern Africa (MCSA) who is based
have been used to defend the physical in Cape Town, cautions against literal
and sexual abuse of women, too, and biblical interpretations. De Lange is
to promote complementarianism — the the director of Inclusive and Affirming
theological perspective that says women Ministries (IAM), a group that advocates
have a different and “subservient” role for acceptance of LGBTQI+ individuals
to men and only men can hold leader- within faith traditions. IAM’s booklet,
ship within marriage and church life. “The Bible and Homosexuality,”54 notes:
Although women have been told to be
subservient to men since Christianity’s “One cannot randomly choose isolated
founding, this use of misogynistic theo- verses as if they represent God’s com-
logical arguments emerged in the 1980s mand to us today. We must interpret and
as a response to second-wave feminism understand the Bible, with the aid of the
Holy Spirit, within the Biblical context as
and has been used to bolster opposition
well as our own context. The big chal-
to gay marriage. In complementarian-
lenge therefore is: How do we read the
ism, marriage is narrowly defined as a Bible, inspired by the Holy Spirit?”
monogamous union between one cis-
gender man and one cisgender woman,
what some Christians have dubbed the
“traditional” family model —a propagan-
distic term that became a key phrase in
culture wars, despite its subjectivity.

In the 21st century, proof-texting of the

Christian Bible has been increasingly
used to support caustic and venomous
The Rev. Ecclesia de Lange is the director
anti-LGBTQI+ attitudes and actions.
of Inclusive and Affirming Ministries. Photo
Many evangelical Christians and Pente-
provided by Ecclesia de Lange.
costal/Apostolic Christians who view
the Bible as the literal word of God
Instead of reading the Bible literally, IAM
selectively pluck out individual pas-
says readers should strive to understand:
sages to condemn sexual and gender
minorities while ignoring other literal
01. the cultural contexts in which
rules about how many days a woman
the Bible’s authors lived.
must wait after her period before
having sex, what fabrics can be used in 02. how specific verses fit into
clothing, or which crimes deserve pun- larger passages and the Bible’s
ishment by stoning. No one follows all overall message.
of these admonitions.
03. how verses can be read with
The Rev. Ecclesia de Lange, an ordained contemporary context.

46 A Reporting Guide for Journalists

Regarding SSOGIE issues specifically, LGBTQI+ members and their advocates
IAM says Bible readers should avoid: sometimes belong to ministries devoted
to fighting homophobia and bigotry
01. isolating specific verses from from within the faith tradition, similar
their broader meanings or to IAM’s work. Groups like the Global
context. Network of Rainbow Catholics provide
counternarratives and fight anti-LGBTQI+
02. inconsistently applying the policies and actions within their respec-
literal method by regarding tive church bodies. Not all members
certain verses as eternal truths of such groups are always comfortable
while ignoring other verses speaking out on the record, but they can
that bear similar style. often help you find sources who will.

03. using isolated texts to prove The Catholic Church encapsulates the
your own point of view. No text complex and contradictory ways sexual
‘speaks’ on its own. and gender minorities are viewed
among church officials, clergy, and
laity. The Church’s Catechism, which
04. relying on translations of the
details official church beliefs, says “men
Bible that introduce ahistorical
and women who have deep-seated
prejudices or misconceptions.
homosexual tendencies … must be
accepted with respect, compassion, and
05. falling back on moralism and sensitivity.”55 But LGBTQI+ Catholics are
prescriptiveness or categoriz- told to remain chaste because sexuality
ing certain sexual sins as worse should be practiced only in marriage,
than the sin of judgment. which the Church defines as permanent,
procreative, heterosexual, and monoga-
IAM reminds readers, “It is irresponsible mous. The Church condemns all forms of
and unscientific to interpret isolated violence against homosexual persons56
verses in the Bible literally or in a funda- but maintains that only two genders
mentalist way. The Bible says absolutely exist and that it’s not possible to change
nothing about, nor does it condemn, a genders57. Professional sourcing and
committed, loving, and faithful homo- storytelling need to reflect these com-
sexual relationship as we know it today.” plex narratives. Without them, journalists
covering SSOGIE issues and religion will
Sexual and gender minorities belong miss an important piece of the puzzle.
to every religious group on earth, even
faith groups that routinely condemn Although anti-LGBTQI+ hate has
them or deny their existence. existed globally for centuries, Chris-
In the most hostile Christian groups, tian-based hate speech has ramped up
LGBTQI+ members often remain clos- in recent years. See Taboom Media’s
eted. But in others, such as the Roman 2019 handbook Investigating Anti-
Catholic Church or within Methodism,

47 A Reporting Guide for Journalists

LGBTQI+ Hate: A Reporting Guide for faith groups and NGOs use “religious
Journalists58 for relevant background, freedom” arguments to foment anti-
tips, and sources that should help LGBTQI+ hatred around the world.
you investigate and report on how


Christian churches headed by charismatic preachers who promise vast wealth and
answered prayers to congregants who make generous donations to the church are
among the fastest growing in the Global South59. Members typically belong to lower
socio-economic groups for which jobs, food, housing, health, and education are typi-
cally scarce or unstable. Some congregants pay these churches to perform exorcisms,
conversion therapy, forced marriages, or even rape in hopes of “curing” a LGBTQI+
family member.

Prosperity theology emerged out of U.S.-born Pentecostal beliefs and worship styles follow-
ing World War II. Revivals and a wave of religious growth in the 1950s included emotional
services with faith healings and plentiful claims of miraculous events. Kate Bowler writes in
her 2013 book Blessed: A History of the American Prosperity Gospel 60:

Prosperity teachers, though varying widely in interpretation and focus, agreed on

three fundamental ideas. First, healing is God’s divine intention for humanity. Second,
Jesus’ work on the cross earned not only redemption from sin but also deliverance
from its penalties: namely, poverty, demonic interference, and sickness. Third, God set
up the laws of faith so that believers could access the power of the cross. (p. 141)

One 2018 study of nearly 100 Prosperity Gospel pastors in South Africa clustered their
theology around “abilities prosperity,” “progress prosperity,” and “miracle prosperity.”
Regardless of the theological argument, the overwhelming message among Prosperity
Gospel ministries is that sexual minorities require “healing” because their core identity
is “sinful” or wrong. Bowler writes about one American pastor who claimed to have
healed a man in the late stages of AIDS. “God restored the man, said Walton (the pas-
tor), when he was delivered of the spirit of homosexuality,” Bowler writes. (p. 145) Such
claims, regardless of their impossibility and even cruelty, can be heard at Prosperity
Gospel church services across the globe.

Prominent news investigations of fraudulent claims and mismanaged donations by

Prosperity Gospel ministries have won prestigious journalistic awards, including
a Pulitzer Prize61. These investigations require time and deep sourcing that often
includes disaffected employees, former board members, disgruntled congregants, and
other individuals who might have access to private caches of documents that can prove
a religious group’s nefarious actions.

48 A Reporting Guide for Journalists

ISLAM jurisprudence beginning in the 1800s
onward. Despite this history, scholars
Overlapping narratives among the Abra- (like Kacia Ali in her 2016 book Sexual
hamic faiths mean that anti-LGBTQI+ Ethics and Islam62) are documenting
Christians, Orthodox Jews, and Muslims greater recognition of sexual and gen-
end up citing similar Bible, Torah, and der diversity within Islam today.
Quran verses to oppose equality.
Just as there is nuance within Christianity,
For example, Muslims who condemn some contemporary Muslim organiza-
homosexuality often reference the tions affirm queer Muslims and support
destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah as equal rights for sexual and gender
evidence that Allah (God) views same- minorities. That said, it’s generally harder
sex sexual relationships as punishable for journalists to find pro-LGBTQI+ Mus-
by death. The story is described in the lim groups than it is to find such groups
Quran with much the same detail as is among Christians.
found in various versions and transla-
tions of the Christian Bible. Muslims, Ishmael Bahati is a Muslim LGBTQI+
however, still read the Quran in Arabic, advocate and the director of Persons
the language in which it was first written Marginalized and Aggrieved (PEMA)63 in
from oral retellings. This fact has helped Mombasa, Kenya. He cites the following
give Muslims who support literal inter- Quranic passage, which addresses hate
pretations of Quranic verses a protective speech and diversity. The English version
theological shield, of sorts, when they of the original Arabic in Surah Al-Hujurat
spread hateful rhetoric against LGBTQI+ (49:11) comes from Sahih International,
Muslims and others. as republished at Quran.com64.

In addition to the Quran, the Muslim O you who have believed, let not a
world has extensive legal and theologi- people ridicule [another] people;
cal writings that were heavily influenced perhaps they may be better than them;
by religious, legal, political, and cul- nor let women ridicule [other] women;
tural events during the religion’s found- perhaps they may be better than them.
ing in the seventh century and beyond. And do not insult one another and
These turbulent times were marked by do not call each other by [offensive]
persecution, regional expansion, and nicknames. Wretched is the name of
changing balances of power. Despite disobedience after [one’s] faith. And
artwork, poetry, interpretations, and whoever does not repent - then it is
other evidence of accepted same-sex those who are the wrongdoers.
romantic and sexual relationships in
pre-modern Islamic cultures, Europe- Muhsin Hendricks is a Cape Town-based
an-based condemnations of sexual Islamic scholar with a background in
minorities influenced and helped classical Arabic and Islamic sciences from
create similar condemnations in Islamic the University of Islamic Studies in Karachi,

49 A Reporting Guide for Journalists

Pakistan. He is an Islamic religious leader who accepts homosexuality should
(imam) by profession and also a human be considered an apostate. Policies in
rights activist who focuses on sexual ori- places such as Afghanistan, Saudi Ara-
entation and gender identity within Islam. bia, Sudan, and the United Arab Emir-
Muhsin founded the Inner Circle and ates—where Islamic law and government
Compassion-Centred Islam65 to support law are intertwined—prescribe harsh
Muslims who have been marginalized prison sentences or even the death pen-
because of their sexual orientations or alty for some SSOGIE minorities. Dozens
gender identities and expressions. of countries ruled by or influenced by
Islamic law also oppose LGBTQI+ rights
at the United Nations.

Islamic radio stations and online

broadcasts often include preaching
and hate speech by Muslim clergy who
condemn sexual minorities. Such rhet-
oric is frequently broadcast in Arabic,
which poses an additional challenge
for reporters who do not speak the
language. With global Islam predicted
Cape Town-based Imam Muhsin Hendricks to grow by 70 percent66 in the next 30
creates safe spaces for queer Muslims. years, this damaging rhetoric within
Photo by Brian Pellot. the world’s second-largest religion is
also likely to grow.
Muhsin says homosexuality and gender
non-conforming identities have existed Muhsin says the contemporary conflict
within predominantly Muslim societies between LGBTQI+ narratives and ortho-
since Islam’s inception more than 1,400 dox Islam leaves many queer Muslims
years ago. with cognitive dissonance and low levels
of self-esteem when trying to reconcile
He cites the example of the mukhan- their sexual orientations or gender iden-
nathun, a social group mentioned in tities with their faiths:
ancient ahadith and sunan among which
sexual and gender non-conforming activ- “This cognitive dissonance, coupled
ities and expressions were prevalent. with blatant rejection from orthodox
Muslim communities, has led many
Muhsin says that contemporary Sunni queer Muslims to negotiate this
and Shiite scholars generally agree that dilemma between sexuality and spiritu-
homosexuality falls under adultery and ality through dual identities, drugs and
should be punished under Islamic law. alcohol abuse, irresponsible sexual
In 2007, the Muslim Judicial Council of behavior, apostasy, and even suicide.”
South Africa declared that any Muslim

50 A Reporting Guide for Journalists

Transgender individuals, however, are tations, signs of change have begun.
more accepted or at least tolerated in In 2019, Rabbi Daniel Atwood became
some majority Muslim countries. For the first openly gay Orthodox rabbi67 to
example, Iran’s government subsidizes be ordained in Israel.
sex reassignment surgery and Pakistan
passed a “Transgender Persons (Pro- Interestingly, some Talmudic scholars
tection of Rights) Act” in 2018. That law say rabbinic literature names several dif-
requires the government to provide pro- ferent gender categories. These names
tection centers and safe houses to at-risk include “saris,” translated as eunuch;
people, among other safety measures. “tumtum,” meaning someone whose
sex is unknown because their genitals
are covered; and “androgynos,” which
translates as intersex.

Among the Abrahamic faiths, Judaism is As is true for most religions, the
by far the smallest, with about 14 million most strictly literalist practitioners of
people worldwide. It is still notable Judaism—a group collectively known
in the context of this guide because as ultra-Orthodox Jews—strongly reject
Hebrew scriptures include the same LGBTQI+ rights. When trans activist
Creation stories and Leviticus passages and former Hasidic rabbi Abby Stein
that are notoriously interpreted as anti- came out68 to her family in 2015, she
LGBTQI+ in Christianity’s Old Testament. was shunned.

Jewish scholars interpret the Torah—

the first five books of the Hebrew TRADITIONAL AFRICAN
Bible -- using some of the same scrip- RELIGIONS
tural analysis methods that Christian
scholars use to interpret cultural and Traditional African religions are as
societal influences in their Bible. diverse as the continent is wide. These
intricate belief systems cannot be easily
Progressive Jewish groups have been summarized, but their perspectives
at the forefront of LGBTQI+ equality regarding sexual and gender minorities
globally. But just like most evangeli- are often negative, as seen in reports
cal Christians who interpret scripture of intersex babies being killed at birth
literally, many Orthodox Jews read the because “they’re bad omens.”69
Torah and rabbinical teachings as for-
bidding certain specific sexual activities
and have policies prohibiting specific
types of sex, such as anal sex. Although
there are transgender Orthodox rabbis,
Orthodox rabbis generally do not
support sex reassignment surgery. Yet
even with prohibitive religious interpre-

51 A Reporting Guide for Journalists

The forum educates sangomas and
society at large about issues surround-
ing sexuality and spirituality. Pharie
describes the forum as a safe space for
people to talk more openly about their
sexuality and to challenge beliefs that
LGBTQI+ people cannot be sangomas.

Pharie interviewed fellow LGBTQI+ san-

gomas at a workshop for a 2015 article
Pharie Sefali represents the Ubambo that originally appeared in GroundUp.70
Lwam Luvuyo LGBTI Traditional Healers
Forum in Cape Town. Photo provided by Sindiswa Tafeni told the workshop that
Pharie Sefali. being lesbian in the township was hard
enough, and being a lesbian sangoma
Some traditional healers do support was even harder because of the attitude
LGBTQI+ people. One example is Pharie of other sangomas.
Sefali, community engagement and
empowerment manager at the Triangle “It’s hard to get clients because commu-
Project and an executive committee nities and straight healers speak badly of
member of Ubambo Lwam Luvuyo LGBTI you. If you go to a traditional ceremony
Traditional Healers Forum in Cape Town. where you meet other healers, they have
Pharie describes traditional healing an attitude of mockery and say that you
as more cosmology than religion and are faking the healing gift and that being
says that traditional healers (also called lesbian shows that your ancestors are
sangomas) serve as the medium through angry at you,” said Tafeni.
which physical, psychological, spiritual,
and ancestral worlds are connected. Nokuthula Mbete, who works for the
Quaker Peace Center and is a tradi-
Pharie says LGBTQI+ sangomas are tional healer and a pastor, said some
often considered “strange” and out of parents assumed that a child who
line with African ancestral beliefs. In disclosed that he or she was gay or
rural communities across South Africa, lesbian was “bewitched” and that the
some families of LGBTQI+ individuals family had been cursed. The children
organize ceremonies with traditional were sent to traditional healers “to
healers in hopes that ancestors will reverse the curse and heal the child
change their loved one’s sexual orien- from the homophobic disease.”
tation or gender identity.
“People take homosexuality as
The Traditional Healers Forum, however, something that can be solved, fixed
advocates for the social and institutional or cured. I work with youth every
rights of LGBTQI+ traditional healers. day. Some get suicidal because their

52 A Reporting Guide for Journalists

parents are giving them traditional not mention any such admonitions.
medicine to cure the homosexual Rather, scriptures and interpretations
‘disease’. So even sangomas have by early monks warn against actions
to be educated about sexuality, and that bring disharmony to family and
we have to change their stereotype home, including having sex with a child,
mindset,” Mbete said. someone who is engaged or married, or
someone who has taken a religious vow
of celibacy. Theravada Buddhist monks
have, at times, explicitly said that a
person’s sex, sexual orientation, gender
Several major religions — Hinduism, identity, or gender expression have no
Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism — orig- bearing on sexual misconduct72.
inated in India and now have adherents
in Eastern and Southern Africa. Views The Dalai Lama, the revered leader of
about LGBTQI+ equality and rights Tibetan Buddhists worldwide, has com-
within these religions are complex and plex and evolving views on sexual and
greatly influenced by contemporary gender minorities, according to Human
culture, politics, and societal pressures. Rights Watch73:
Here we look at the largest of these
religions, Buddhism and Hinduism. On the positive side, he has publicly
condemned violence against LGBTQ
BUDDHISM people and has been reported to
have said, “If the two people have
taken no vows [of chastity] and nei-
Buddhism is the second oldest major ther is harmed, why should it not be
world religion after Hinduism. Its larg- acceptable? Yet in a 1997 press con-
est presence is in Southeast Asia and ference he commented that “from
China. Like all world faiths, Buddhism a Buddhist point of view [lesbian
is tremendously diverse and has under- and gay sex] is generally consid-
gone a variety of interpretations in the ered sexual misconduct.” During
more than 2,400 years since the reli- a meeting with representatives of
gion’s namesake, Siddhartha Gautama the LGBTQ community, the Dalai
(the Buddha) lived. The two major Lama reportedly showed interest
branches are Theravada Buddhism and in how modern scientific research
Mahayana Buddhism. might create new understanding of
the Buddhist texts, acknowledging
As with Abrahamic texts, Buddhist a “willingness to consider the pos-
scholars typically interpret admonitions sibility that some of the teachings
against or punishment of sexual and may be specific to a particular
gender minorities and relationships as cultural and historic context.”
indicative of how the faith’s founder
viewed LGBTQI+ inclusion. Among the Buddhist ethical norms are expressed in
oldest Buddhist scriptures are Theravada the Eight Fold Path and Five Precepts.
Buddhism’s Pali Canon71, which does

53 A Reporting Guide for Journalists

They include the overall aim of Buddhism, Hindu culture has had complex repre-
which is to remove all earthly “attach- sentations of sexual and gender minori-
ments.” For Buddhists, that includes sup- ties throughout its history, most notably
pressing any craving for sensual pleasure among the faith’s thousands of deities.
and avoiding sexual misconduct—regard- Hinduism is a monotheistic religion with
less of sexual orientation74, gender identity, a supreme being named Brahman, but
or gender expression. Hindus are guided in their daily lives
by the worship of lesser deities. These
Although sex and lust are generally deities include a spectrum of sexual and
viewed in Buddhist discourse among gender minorities who are celebrated
monks as a hindrance to reaching an at festivals across India. One festival in
enlightened state, one historical excep- the northeastern town of Koovagam
tion is the celebration of love in Japan celebrates “third gender” hijras78.
between young male novices and older Scholarship in recent years has uncov-
monks, as expressed in the Abhidharma- ered a rich historical legacy in Sanskrit
kosha75, a fourth- or fifth-century writing. references that confirm the existence of
this third gender concept going back to
Unlike Theravada Buddhism, in which Hinduism’s oldest Vedic scriptures.
enlightenment can take many lifetimes
to achieve, Mahayana Buddhism In their book “Same-Sex Love in India,”79
teaches that a person only needs one Ruth Vanita and Saleem Kidwai identify
lifetime. To assure the speediest path sacred Hindu scriptures that have
to enlightenment, monks in the fourth discussed and debated same-sex desire
century B.C. were forbidden to have in myriad ways, from critical to playful
sexual relations with any of the four to celebratory. Similarly, the book “Triti-
main sex/gender types76 mentioned ya-Prakriti: People of the Third Sex”80
in the Vinaya, the Buddhist monastic by Hindu monk Amara Das Wilhelm
community regulations based on shows examples of how ancient refer-
ancient scriptures. These four types ences to sexual minorities were more
were male, female, intersex (ubha- positive than today’s mixed rhetoric.
tovyanjanaka), and pandaka, which “Early Vedic teachings stressed respon-
is defined broadly as anything from sible family life and asceticism but also
transgender women to eunuchs to tolerated different types of sexualities
impotent men. within general society,” Wilhelm writes.

Depictions of Hindu deities who are

HINDUISM intersex, deities who display three gender
identities, deities born from a single man
Despite the 2018 decriminalization or single woman, deities who switch
of gay sex in India, where the vast genders, deities who are born from two
majority of Hindus live, most Hindus women or two men, and deities who part-
still largely eschew77 open discussion ner with the same gender or none are all
of LGBTQI+ rights and issues. part of the rich representation of Hinduism
in its diverse sacred literature.

54 A Reporting Guide for Journalists


55 A Reporting Guide for Journalists
Religion Reporting Tips

Writing and producing stories about FINDING AND VETTING

religion in ways that resonate with SOURCES AND STATISTICS
ardent believers, well-read worshippers,
spiritual dabblers, and unconcerned • Religious groups can be wary of
agnostics requires skill and commitment. outsiders. Learn how to network and
The reporting tips below come from pro- develop relationships with sources.
fessional journalists who cover religion • Visit houses of worship, bookstores,
full time. hobby groups, sports games,
conferences, festivals, or meditation
centers—wherever people of faith
AND INSIGHT • Try to find local representatives of
national organizations that are tied to
• Be curious and willing to learn about specific faiths.
others’ beliefs.
• Visit online chat sites, social network
• Be willing to work through cultural sites, or advocacy and support sites.
and language barriers. Sign up for newsletters and Google
Alerts on faith topics that interest you.
• Respect the role of faith in people’s
lives, but maintain your journalistic • Try contacting sources on other
skepticism. journalists’ beats or asking your jour-
nalism colleagues for help.
• Look beyond institutional religion
• Seek out knowledgeable sources
and delve into informal, unorga-
capable of providing accurate infor-
nized faith practices.
mation and analysis.
• When possible, be local and • Always investigate and evaluate the
national—or local and global—by credibility of your sources and con-
connecting a story in your community sider their motivations and potential
to bigger trends or issues. biases.
• Ask sources to characterize and • Strive to include moderate sources
label their own beliefs rather than in your reporting, not just extreme or
making your own generalizations or powerful voices.

56 A Reporting Guide for Journalists

• Be cautious with statistics. Some • Research gender expectations of oth-
religions do not keep accurate mem- er faiths and know what to do about
bership records, and some advocacy segregated seating, head coverings,
groups promote their own polls. Be and handshakes ahead of your visit.
specific about what numbers repre-
sent and where you found them. • Ask permission in advance if you
wish to photograph, film, or record a
• Official websites of denominations worship service.
and religious organizations are gener-
ally reliable but sometimes outdated.
Make sure the information you gather REVEALING PERSONAL BELIEFS
has been updated recently.
• Be prepared to handle questions
• Look out for critics of religions who about your personal beliefs from
create websites with addresses sources.
that are similar to those of whatever
group they are criticizing. It’s easy • Become familiar with and follow
to stumble on a site that you did not any ethical guidelines set by your
intend to visit. media organization regarding such
• ReligionLink.com81 is a helpful
website created by journalists who • Assure your source that you will listen
cover religion. It features thousands to them and that you are committed
of story ideas, resources, and sources to representing their faith in a fair and
on a wide range of issues related to accurate way.
religion, public policy, and culture.
• It’s perfectly fine to decline to answer
questions about your own beliefs or
VISITING PLACES OF WORSHIP to ask why the person is curious. Use
your discretion.
• Journalists should experience worship
services first-hand whenever possible.
• Consider letting religious leaders
know in advance that you will be • Remember that your job is to report,
attending a service. not comment or judge.

• If a worship service is open to the • Maintain fairness in your story by

public, you can consider what is said representing multiple sides. Use
to be “on the record,” even if the counterclaims so that one person’s
house of worship is private property. quotes or accusations do not stand
alone. This will help show how prev-
• Be respectful. This may mean follow- alent your source’s views are within a
ing customs such as standing, being faith tradition.
silent during prayer, and even observ-
ing modesty customs regarding head • Adding context can accurately
coverings, etc. characterize a person’s beliefs.

57 A Reporting Guide for Journalists

Using quotes from an expert or a • Never assume a source knows what
fact can quickly show your audience deities, angels, or demons are up to.
whether a source is on the fringe or For example, write that a source says
in the mainstream. she saw an angel rather than that an
angel appeared in front of the source.
• If you decide that you won’t be
able to accurately and fairly report • Don’t assume that because someone
on someone you disagree with, is a leader or member of a faith group
courteously bow out and ask that they necessarily agree with all of that
another reporter be assigned to group’s policies and beliefs. Make
cover the story. sure to clarify their views on a topic.

• Don’t use terminology that de-

THE MAJOR “DON’TS” OF fines the depth or commitment of
RELIGION REPORTING someone’s faith or religious practices
unless a source describes themselves
• Do not preach, teach, or proselytize as such (“devout,” “practicing,” etc.).
in a story.
• Don’t forget to double-check and
• Never promote your faith tradition clarify your sources’ quotes.
above others or endorse its beliefs
in a story. • Don’t wait for a story to “break.”
Actively seek out topics that
• You can report on your own religion. interest you.
Just make sure to avoid conflicts of
interest such as writing about your
own congregation.

58 A Reporting Guide for Journalists


59 A Reporting Guide for Journalists
Source Safety and Digital Security

Journalists have a duty to allow marginal- news outlets handle such requests and
ized people to speak for themselves and suggest that your newsroom follow suit.
in their own voices. We also have a duty
to minimize harm, which means doing The Samir Kassir Foundation’s Journalist
everything we can to protect the safety Survival Guide82 offers several tips on
and security of the sources and commu- protecting source identity, which have
nities we spotlight in our coverage. been updated for this guide:

Sexual, gender, and religious minori-

ties are sometimes understandably
reluctant to speak to the press if
they or people they know have been Before conducting the interview, estab-
sensationalized or stereotyped in past lish the rules under which the informa-
reporting. The best way to build trust tion you get can be reported.
with sources is to consistently produce
• Can you use their real name?
responsible and ethical journalism
that demonstrates a commitment to • Can you identify their place of work
fairness, accuracy, and sensitivity. or position within an organization?

Be sure sources understand the potential • Can you quote them directly?
ramifications of being interviewed and
quoted on sensitive topics. Clearly As a journalist, it is important that you
tell them where your story will appear reveal as much information about your
and its likely audience. If they provide sources as possible to establish their,
information off-the-record or on back- and your, credibility with your audience.
ground, respect that. If they ask not to When negotiating these terms, try not
be photographed or that their real name to make too many suggestions. Let
not be used in a story, respect that too. your sources reflect and decide how
Your editors should have a policy on much information they want revealed
pseudonyms and source anonymity. about themselves.
If they don’t, find out how other ethical

60 A Reporting Guide for Journalists

Avoid saying you WILL keep their to communicate electronically. Wi-Fi
identity secret, because there may be networks are notoriously insecure. You
circumstances where you are compelled should familiarize yourself with the
to reveal it. Instead say you will do technology that exists to conceal your
EVERYTHING IN YOUR POWER to keep own identity. Secure internet services
their identity secret, and then be specific such as TOR will mask your computer’s
about how you intend to do that. IP address. Secure chat rooms and
email services provide another level
As always, take careful notes during of security. Keep in mind that the very
these discussions, and secure those presence of safe mail or proxy internet
notes. Use a single notebook for all software on your computer may look
of your reporting on a confidential suspicious to authorities.
source. Do NOT put their contact infor-
mation in that notebook. If possible,
commit their contact details to mem-
ory, and identify them in your notes by
using numbers or symbols.
If your source agrees to an on-camera
Do not discuss the identity of your interview, there are several production
source or the information you have techniques you can use to protect their
identity. One of the most commonly
obtained with friends or family.
used techniques is blurring the face in
edit after the interview is completed.
FIRST CONTACT Be careful if you do this because your
raw video files will, of course, reveal the
person’s face. Shooting “in shadow” is
The best way to get information that
also not particularly secure. Facial recog-
cannot be traced is to have an in-person
nition software can easily identify people
conversation in a private place. You
by their profiles or the shape of their
should operate on the assumption that
ears. Even if the face looks completely
online communications, text messages,
blacked out on your camera monitor,
and phone calls can be monitored,
there is a good chance the dark areas
logged, and recorded.
contain more information than you think.

Bring a small compact camera capa- Another technique is using face scarves
ble of shooting video with you to the or masks to hide everything but the eyes,
meeting, even if you intend to do a full but eyes like fingerprints are unique to
interview later. It’s always possible that individuals. Your interview subject can
the source will only agree to speak with be identified by their irises alone.
you once. Do not use a smartphone
camera or anything that is online. You may decide to film your interview
without showing the source’s face. Be
In many cases, an in-person interview aware that clothing, hands, and gestures
won’t be possible and you will need can still reveal their identity.

61 A Reporting Guide for Journalists

One effective solution is to focus the EDITING VIDEO FOOTAGE
camera on your own face with the back
of the subject’s head in the foreground. Video journalists who routinely deal
If they wear a scarf or a hood you can with confidential sources will often
protect their identity and still maintain a keep two computers, one for gen-
visually interesting shot. Be aware of any eral use and another that never goes
reflections that might show their face. online. If you have two computers, use
the offline one to import and edit your
media. If you don’t have two comput-
ers, avoid being online while you’re
working with the material.

Once your edit is complete, you may

export the finished project and delete
your source files and any proxy files cre-
ated during the edit. The original mem-
ory card should be the only archive you
Ghanaian journalist Prince Appiah photographs need. If you need to transfer or upload
a source from behind to protect his identity. your finished report via the internet,
copy it onto an external drive and plug
that into your online computer.

Your particular circumstances may

You should always use a camera with require you to devise new systems
removable memory cards and record to protect the identity of confidential
onto those rather than the camera’s sources. Just remember to be careful
built-in storage. Bring at least two mem- about what you promise, stick to those
ory cards with you to the interview. promises, and continuously educate
yourself about technological changes
As soon as your interview is shot, that could make your work safer or
immediately remove the memory card more dangerous.
and secure it. Replace the card with a
fresh one, and once you are clear of your
source, shoot some new material, for
example, a street scene or a market-
place. That way if you are stopped and
your camera is confiscated, you will have
a plausible explanation for what you
were doing because the new media will
be time-stamped. If the memory card in
the camera is blank, whoever confiscates
it might be more suspicious.

62 A Reporting Guide for Journalists

OTHER RESOURCES for the LGBTI community in Sub-Saharan
Africa84 remains an excellent resource
The Samir Kassir Foundation has short for journalists reporting on sexual and
animated video tutorials83 on other gender minorities in the region.
topics including how to protect your
computer from malware and hackers, The Electronic Frontier Foundation fea-
how to get a secure internet connection, tures surveillance self-defense guides85 for
and how to secure your Skype account. Journalists on the Move and LGBTQ Youth.

Although it is no longer being updated, The Committee to Protect Journalists has a

the Security in-a-Box community focus curated list of Digital Safety DIY Guides86.
guide to digital security tools and tactics

63 A Reporting Guide for Journalists


64 A Reporting Guide for Journalists
Journalist Safety and Wellness

Reporting on divisive or taboo human 1. KNOW YOUR LIMITS

rights topics can be risky for sources,
but we also need to safeguard ourselves
Before tackling a controversial topic,
from legal and social backlash.
research local laws and cultural sensitiv-
ities that might limit your ability to freely
Constitutions and laws that prohibit
report on the issue. Once you under-
defamation, libel, blasphemy, or “gay
stand these legal and social limits you’ll
propaganda” may be weaponized to
be better placed to determine your own
censor us. Members of our commu-
limits and decide how far you’re willing
nities -- including friends, neighbors,
to push a story.
colleagues, and even family members
-- may turn their backs on us for daring
to broach sensitive topics. Complete 2. LET SOURCES SAY
strangers may attack us on social media WHAT YOU CAN’T
with hateful messages or threats of
physical harm. Some may even follow
through on these threats, putting us Include alternative voices in your report-
and our colleagues and loved ones in ing—people who can express ideas and
harm’s way. opinions you can’t or who represent
identities that are often absent or dis-
These personal and professional risks torted in the press. This might sound like
are real, but even just the fear of legal a basic principle of good reporting (it is),
punishment, social ostracization, finan- but it’s also a powerful way to air dissent
cial loss, or physical attack can induce and to highlight local controversies and
psychological trauma. debates. If including such quotes could
potentially endanger your sources,
Faced with these threats, how can consider how to mitigate those threats
journalists cover sensitive issues around before publishing.
religious, sexual, and gender minorities
while staying physically safe and men-
tally sound?

65 A Reporting Guide for Journalists

3. WRITE ANONYMOUSLY creative. “Gender” often just means
“women” in policy and development
circles. That (incorrect) assumption may
If you care more about reporting the
allow you to embed transgender issues
facts than seeing your byline, consider
or include transgender sources when
writing anonymously or pseudony-
reporting on the topic without attracting
mously. Don’t think for a second that
much scrutiny. “Key populations” can
doing so will make you untouchable.
also provide an “acceptable” framework
If you’re reporting on sensitive issues,
through which to discuss sexual and
you still need to take every precaution
gender minorities’ realities and con-
to avoid being traced, tracked, or
cerns. Overreliance on this public health
identified. If you fail to do so, you’re
framing risks medicalizing SSOGIE
not only compromising your own safety
identities, but it can provide a helpful
but also that of your sources. Start with
entry point when used appropriately and
some basic online privacy tips from the
when your options are otherwise limited.
Electronic Frontier Foundation87, Tor88,
Privacy International89, and Access

4. REPORT FROM EXILE Before diving into SSOGIE coverage

with an ambitious story you know will
cause a splash (and backlash), first dip
Hardly ideal, but reporting from exile is
your toes in to test the water. In many
often a necessary option. If journalists
societies, reporting on intersex issues
and citizens are unable to cover sensitive
may be a journalist’s safest entry point
topics from within their countries, they
to eventually covering broader sexual
might choose to safely, securely, and
and gender minority issues. In countries
anonymously feed information to out-
where national strategic frameworks on
siders who have large international fol-
HIV/AIDS acknowledge key popula-
lowings. Diaspora journalists living and
tions, including men who have sex with
working abroad still need to consider
men and sex workers, try pitching a
the safety of family, friends, colleagues,
story about how these policies affect
and sources back home. IranWire91 is a
these groups. Establishing a track record
great example of this kind of reporting.
that shows editors and sources you can
responsibly cover SSOGIE issues should
5. WRITE BETWEEN THE LINES help you nudge the door open to report
on more controversial or sensitive topics
over time.
If you know that certain words like “gay,”
“transgender,” or “sex work” will prompt
your editor or publisher to kill a story
or your government to censor it, get

66 A Reporting Guide for Journalists

7. PREPARE FOR THE WORST or blocking harassers, and temporarily
disabling your accounts.
When covering taboo topics, it’s usually
best to prepare for the worst. That 9. LOOK AFTER YOUR
means taking all necessary precautions MENTAL HEALTH
to protect yourself, colleagues, and
loved ones. Reporters Without Borders’
Safety Guide for Journalists92 offers risk Navigating around taboo topics, inter-
assessment advice and best practices to viewing traumatized sources, and brac-
safeguard your physical, emotional, and ing for audience backlash can lead to its
financial health. It’s a survival guide more own form of “secondary trauma”95. Signs
geared to war reporting, but many of its of such trauma may include emotional
tips are just as relevant to reporting on drain, exhaustion, painful flashbacks,
controversial or divisive issues. guilt, anxiety, stress, depression, burn-
out, crying, substance use, and other
coping mechanisms. If you notice these
8. COMBAT ONLINE signs in yourself or in colleagues, know
HARASSMENT that help is available.

The Dart Center for Journalism and

If your reporting draws the ire of internet
Trauma offers resources on covering
trolls, there are steps you can take to
trauma96 and managing stress97. The
mitigate the hatred. Pen America has a
International Center for Journalists offers
robust online harassment field manual93
mental health tips and resources98.
filled with effective strategies and
resources journalists can use to defend
Bruce Shapiro, executive director of
against cyber hate and fight online
the Dart Center, advises journalists to
abuse. The manual includes tactics for
“create a self-care plan with assertive
protecting your online presence and
boundaries.” This might include yoga,
accounts; strategies for response, includ-
exercise, meditation, and keeping a list
ing assessing threats, documenting
of what you’ve accomplished through-
harassment, navigating social media and
out the day to overcome feelings of
email, deploying cyber communities,
and practicing counterspeech; advice
for practicing self-care and maintaining
Reuters has a journalist mental health
community; legal responses; and poten-
and wellbeing advocate99 and offers
tial sources of support. For a quicker
free counseling services to employ-
overview, read the Committee to Protect
ees, stringers, alumni, and their family
Journalists’ psychological safety note on
members. Not all newsrooms can afford
online harassment and how to protect
to provide such services, but you can
your mental health94. Tips include
encourage your bosses and colleagues
updating your privacy settings, muting

67 A Reporting Guide for Journalists

to create and implement mental health Editors’ Forum104 may be a good starting
protocols, committees, support groups, point, as may smaller national associa-
and other programs. tions of journalists. If you cover LGBTQI+
issues, contact NLGJA105. If your beat is
If you’re struggling with stress, anxiety, religion, contact Religion News Associa-
or depression, there are many free tion106 or the International Association of
online therapy programs and courses. Religion Journalists107.
The Centre for Interactive Mental Health
Solutions offers Bliss, a free eight-session Many countries have associations
interactive online cognitive behavioral specifically for freelance journalists
therapy program for depression100 you (SAFREA108 in South Africa, NAFJ109
can complete on your own. Palouse in Zimbabwe, AFJ110 in Kenya, etc.).
Mindfulness offers a free eight-week Frontline Freelance Register (FFR)111
online mindfulness-based stress reduc- offers representation and a sense of
tion training course101. community to international freelance
journalists who are exposed to risk in
In-person or one-on-one online therapy their work. Associate membership is
can be expensive, but free and reduced- free. The Rory Peck Trust 112 provides
cost options may still be available. If practical and financial support to
you have medical aid in South Africa, freelance journalists and their families
government-mandated prescribed mini- worldwide, assisting in times of crisis
mum benefits mean you may be eligible and helping them to work more safely
for up to 15 therapy sessions per year and professionally.
at no additional cost102. Local clinics,
hospitals, or universities may offer free
or affordable sessions with a therapist
in training under the supervision of a
licensed clinician. Many group therapy
sessions are free. See what’s available in
your community.



Journalism can be a lonely profession.

It can be especially isolating for free-
lancers who work from home without
the institutional support of a newsroom.
Consider joining a journalism association
for your region or beat. The Federation
of African Journalists103 or the African

68 A Reporting Guide for Journalists


69 A Reporting Guide for Journalists
Additional Resources
and Readings

This section offers a curated list of links of where things are improving or de-
to relevant research, reporting guides, teriorating. The map114 and regional
media analysis, and stories that can charts (Africa 115) are also useful for
enhance and inspire your reporting on country comparisons.
SSOGIE minorities and religion. All links
are valid and accurate as of April 2020. • The 2017 ILGA-RIWI Global Attitudes
If a link has since broken, you can search Survey on Sexual, Gender and Sex Mi-
for the title online. norities116 uses online surveys to assess
public opinion on such issues as equal
rights, workplace protections, legal
RESEARCH gender recognition, criminalization of
same-sex sexual activity, religion, and
• State-Sponsored Homophobia 2019: culture. The survey reached around
A world survey of sexual orientation 116,000 unique respondents in more
laws: criminalisation, protection and than 70 countries.
recognition113 is an annual report
by the International Lesbian, Gay, • Trans Legal Mapping Report117 is a
Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Associa- 2017 report by ILGA that documents
tion (ILGA). It provides a good starting how laws in different countries rec-
point to see where laws protect or ognize or prevent the rights of trans
criminalize same-sex sexual activity people to change their identity mark-
and related identities and can help ers on official documents. Compare
narrow your investigation to particular the countries in this report to ILGA’s
countries or regions of concern. It State-Sponsored Homophobia report.
also provides precise references to
the actual content of laws, which can • The Global Divide on Homosexuality118
aid in your reporting. Compare the is a 2013 Pew Research Center report
2019 report to the decade of annual on global attitudes to homosexuality
reports that preceded it to get a sense in 39 countries. On the question,
“Should Society Accept Homosexu-

70 A Reporting Guide for Journalists

ality,” a majority of people said “No” • Violence Based on Perceived or Real
in the six African countries surveyed, Sexual Orientation and Gender
namely South Africa (61% “No”), Identity in Africa122 is a 2013 report
Kenya (90%), Uganda (96%), Ghana compiled by African Men for Sexual
(96%), Senegal (96%), and Nigeria Health and Rights (AMSHeR) and the
(98%). The survey found that accep- Coalition of African Lesbians. The
tance of homosexuality is most wide- report documents different forms of
spread in countries where religion is violence, factors fueling violence,
less central to people’s lives. and the impacts of violence on LGBTI
individuals in Africa. It is available in
• Good neighbours? Africans express English and French.
high levels of tolerance for many,
but not for all119 is a 2016 study • The Export of Hate123 is a 2014 report
by Afrobarometer that examines by Human Rights Campaign that pro-
attitudes towards people of different files some of the many individuals and
religions and sexual orientations in organizations advocating anti-LGBT
33 countries. bigotry and policies beyond their
borders. The report outlines the con-
• Breaking the Silence: Criminalisation nections and associations between
of Lesbians and Bisexual Women and them, the nations in which they’re
its Impacts120 is a 2016 report by the active, and some of the resources at
Human Dignity Trust that documents their disposal.
the history of laws criminalizing
consensual sexual intimacy between • Religious Conservatism on the Global
women, and the homophobia Stage: Threats and Challenges for
anti-LGBT criminal laws foster and per- LGBTI Rights124 is a 2018 report by
petuate against lesbians and bisexual the Global Philanthropy Project that
women in particular. documents the main conservative
strategies, discourses, funding sourc-
• Making Love a Crime: Criminalization es, and actors opposing the rights of
of Same-Sex Conduct in Sub-Saharan sexual and gender minorities at the
Africa121 is a 2013 report by Amnesty global level. The report includes an
International that analyzes the legal African case study.
environment and wider context of
human rights violations against LGBTI • Harmful Treatment: The Global Reach
individuals in Sub-Saharan Africa. The of So-Called Conversion Therapy125
report discusses how religion is used is a 2019 report by OutRight Action
to justify anti-LGBTI hate and flags International that documents the
Western preachers including Rick dangerous effects of “curative” or
Warren and Scott Lively as actively “reparative” therapy/abuse used to at-
funding or promoting homophobia tempts to change, suppress, or divert
in Africa. a person’s sexual orientation, gender
identity or gender expression.

71 A Reporting Guide for Journalists

• Colonizing African Values: How the the dangers of homosexuals and pres-
U.S. Christian Right Is Transforming ent themselves as the true representa-
Sexual Politics in Africa126 is a 2012 tives of U.S. evangelicalism, helping
report by the Rev. Dr. Kapya Kao- to marginalize Africans’ relationships
ma published by Political Research with mainline Protestant churches.
Associates. The report looks at the
impact of U.S. religious conservatives • American Culture Warriors in Africa: A
on LGBTQ and women’s reproductive Guide to the Exporters of Homophobia
rights in Africa and tracks the activities and Sexism128 is a 2014 book by the
of the American Center for Law and Rev. Dr. Kapya Kaoma published by
Justice (and its African chapters), Political Research Associates. The
Family Watch International, the book includes profiles of the Amer-
Roman Catholic group Human Life ican actors most responsible for the
International, and the Transformation international assault on LGBTQ people
Network, which connects African and reproductive justice; an overview
and conservative American churches of their culture war campaigns in
into a global network and prescribes Africa; and guidelines for concrete
exorcisms to cast out the “demons of action that can be taken in the U.S.
homosexuality”. The report shows that to interrupt the continued export of
U.S. Christian Right groups continue American culture wars abroad.
to build organizational strength and
• Globalizing Hatred129, published in
campaign to inscribe homophobia
Harvard Political Review in March 2019,
and anti-abortion politics in the consti-
discusses the extreme homophobia
tutions and laws of African countries.
American evangelicals have helped
• Globalizing the Culture Wars: U.S. cultivate in African countries including
Conservatives, African Churches, and Uganda.
Homophobia127 is a 2009 report by
• This Alien Legacy: The Origins of “Sod-
the Rev. Dr. Kapya Kaoma published
omy” Laws in British Colonialism130
by Political Research Associates. It
is a 2008 report from Human Rights
argues that sexual minorities in Africa
Watch that traces modern-day laws
have become collateral damage to
against “unnatural offences” used to
U.S. domestic conflicts and culture
criminalize same-sex sexuality back to
wars. The report shows how the
the introduction of anti-sodomy laws
U.S. Right, once isolated in Africa
in British protectorates in the 1800s.
for supporting pro-apartheid, White
supremacist regimes – has successfully • The West exported homophobia, not
reinvented itself as the mainstream of homosexuality131 is a December 2018
U.S. evangelicalism. Through their op-ed for News24 in which Gerbrandt
extensive communications networks van Heerden, a researcher at the
in Africa, social welfare projects, Bible South African Institute of Race Rela-
schools, and educational materials, tions (IRR), cites historical evidence of
U.S. religious conservatives warn of

72 A Reporting Guide for Journalists

sexual and gender minorities across lished by the Heinrich Böll Foundation
Africa before and during colonialism. that explores how faith can bring vio-
lence to LGBTQI+ people but can also
• If you say being gay is not African, present opportunities to strengthen
you don’t know your history132 is human rights and justice.
a 2015 op-ed by Bisi Alimi that
explores how African cultures have • Faith Positions137, published by Human
historically celebrated diversity and Rights Campaign, offers an overview
promoted acceptance of sexual and of how dozens of different religious
gender diversity. groups and faith traditions consider
LGBTQI+ people and the issues that
• Homosexuality is not un-African133 affect them.
is a 2014 Al Jazeera op-ed by Sylvia
Tamale, a professor of law at Mak- • Homophobia and the Churches in
erere University in Uganda, that lists Africa: A Dialogue138 is a report by The
historic expressions of gender and Other Foundation synthesizing a two-
sexual diversity across Africa. day conference held in South Africa
in April 2016. You can watch video
• The Splendor of Gender Non-Con- recordings of each session here139.
formity In Africa134 is a 2017 post on
Medium by Shanna Collins that lists • Stabanisation140 is a 2019 report by
numerous examples of diverse gender The Other Foundation that discusses
expressions and conceptions in Africa. how LGBTI voices can be amplified in
the African church landscape.
• Boy-Wives and Female Husbands:
Studies in African Homosexuali- • Criminalising Homosexuality and
ties135, a 1998 book by Stephen O. Understanding the Right to Manifest
Murray and Will Roscoe, list some Religion141 is a 2016 briefing note by
of the indigenous words used to the Human Dignity Trust that discusses
discuss homosexuality and gen- how religion and criminalization of ho-
der diversity across Africa in the mosexuality are connected around the
pre-colonial and colonial era. These world. The note includes statements
include mumemke (mume=man, by religious leaders from a diversity of
mke=woman), which appeared in faiths on LGBTI issues.
the first Swahili-English dictionary
in 1882, shoga (male homosexual • Recognizing religious freedom as an
or friend), mugawe (Meru men who LGBT issue,142 written by Human Rights
wore women’s clothes and some- Watch’s Ryan Thoreson and published
times married men), and inzili (inter- in The Hill, says the International Reli-
sex people in Kenya and Tanzania). gious Freedom Report for 2017 — an
annual survey on the state of religious
• Keeping the Faith: Working at the freedom in 195 countries — offered a
Crossroads of Religion & Sexual and mixed bag for LGBT people at a time
Gender Rights136 is a 2019 report pub- when religious liberty increasingly is

73 A Reporting Guide for Journalists

used as a pretext to license discrimina- there is good evidence that an earlier
tion in the United States. Thoreson ar- version of the laws in the Bible’s Leviti-
gues the State Department should more cus 18 permitted sex between men.
forcefully promote an inclusive vision of
religious liberty that all can enjoy. • The Bible and Homosexuality147 is
a 2015 booklet by Inclusive and
• A mapping on sexuality, human rights Affirming Ministries that analyzes and
and the role of religious leaders: interprets eight passages of scripture
exploring the potential for dialogue143 often cited as pertaining to homosex-
is a 2014 report by Hivos that iden- uality.
tifies progressive religious leaders,
describes and analyzes the various • Homosexuality in Islam: Critical Reflec-
discourses of religious leaders that ad- tion on Gay, Lesbian, and Transgender
dress sexuality and human rights, and Muslims148 is a 2010 book by Scott
provides pointers on the involvement Siraj al-Haqq Kugle that offers a de-
of these progressive religious leaders tailed analysis of how Islamic scripture,
for intensified engagement between jurisprudence, and Hadith, can be
religious and human rights actors. The interpreted to accommodate sexual
report mostly focuses on Africa. and gender diversity.

• Different Ways of Doing Violence: • Canaries in the Coal Mines: An Anal-

Sexuality, Religion, and Public Health ysis of Spaces for LGBTI Activism in
in the Lives of Same-Gender-Loving Southern Africa149 is a 2016 report by
Men in Kenya144 is a 2015 report by The Other Foundation that assesses
John Blevins and Peter Irungu that the depth and nature of social exclu-
highlights how religious leaders’ sion of LGBTI people and analyzes
teachings are consistently invoked in how LGBTI groups are organizing
the perception and mistreatment of to transform that reality in Angola,
LGBTQI+ persons in Kenya. Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauri-
tius, Mozambique, Namibia, Eswatini,
• ILGA-Europe’s Winter 2015/16 Zambia and Zimbabwe.
magazine145 on reconciling sexual
orientation, gender identity, gender • We Exist: Mapping LGBTQ Organiz-
expression, and religion features a ing in West Africa150 is a 2016 report
section on the right to freedom of by what would become the Initiative
religion or belief and its intersection Sankofa d’Afrique de l’Ouest (ISD-
with other rights. AO). It constitutes a scan of LGBTQ
organizing in the region, reaching a
• The Secret History of Leviticus146, total of 50 groups and organizations
published in the New York Times and 180 activists from nine West Af-
in July 2018 by Idan Dershowitz, a rican countries (Benin, Burkina Faso,
biblical scholar and junior fellow at Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Liberia, Mali,
the Harvard Society of Fellows, argues Nigeria, Senegal, and Togo).

74 A Reporting Guide for Journalists

• LGBT in West Africa: Arrests, lynchings, organization Chapter Four Uganda,
discrimination, denial151 is a 2019 post documents abuse of the rights of
by the African Human Rights Media sexual minorities in Uganda’s criminal
Network on the Erasing 76 Crimes justice system.
blog that provides a rare overview of
West African nations’ attitudes and • Expanded Criminalisation of Ho-
policies towards LGBTQI+ people. mosexuality in Uganda: A Flawed
Narrative156 is a 2014 report by the
• South Africa LGBTI: Landscape rights group Sexual Minorities Uganda
Analysis of Political, Economic & (SMUG) documenting more than 21
Social Conditions152 is a 2016 report varieties of traditional African homo-
produced by The Astraea Lesbian sexuality157 and gender diversity from
Foundation for Justice that provides an across the continent.
overview of South Africa’s LGBTI social
movement and a summary of the • Tanzania’s Anti-LGBT Crackdown
opportunities and challenges activists and the Right to Health158 is a 2020
face as they work to advance LGBTI report by Human Rights Watch that
rights protections and translate them documents increased government
into meaningful change. repression of Tanzania’s LGBTQI+
community between 2016 and 2019.
• Under Wraps: A Survey of Public Atti-
tudes to Homosexuality and Gender • Silenced Voices, Threatened Lives159
Non-Conformity in Malawi153 is a is a 2015 report documenting the
2019 report by The Other Founda- impact of Nigeria’s 2014 Same Sex
tion that presents data from a survey Marriage Prohibition Law on freedom
of 1,300 Malawians. It shows that a of expression. The report was written
majority of Malawians restrict LGBTI by the PEN American Center, PEN
people from being openly recog- Nigeria, and the Leitner Center for In-
nized and safely included in families, ternational Law and Justice at Fordham
communities, workplaces, cultural Law School in New York City.
practices, and public policies
• The Centre for Human Rights at the
• 2016 Uganda Report of Violations University of Pretoria in South Africa
Based on Sexual Orientation and holds a week-long course on sexual
Gender Identity154, compiled by minority rights each year. See the
Human Rights Awareness and course program and key readings on
Promotion Forum - Uganda (HRAPF), the Centre’s website160.
offers a snapshot of the human rights
• The United Nations’ Free & Equal
violations LGBTQI+ people face at the
Campaign161 posts several fact sheets162
hands of state- and non-state actors.
on LGBTI rights and equality including
• Where Do We Go for Justice?155 is FAQs, international human rights law,
a 2015 report by the civil rights and specific information on criminaliza-
tion, violence, refuge, and asylum.

75 A Reporting Guide for Journalists

• Amnesty International has information messaging and how such messaging
and resources about LGBT rights163 on is received by their audiences.
its website.
• Media Representation of LGBTQ
• The U.K. Department for International People in Africa168 is a 2019 report
Development’s Faith, Gender and written by Brian Pellot for the Arcus
Sexuality Toolkit164 includes sections Foundation that analyzes 18 months
on sexuality & gender diversity, cul- of mainstream LGBTQI+ news media
ture, tradition, and faith. coverage in South Africa, Botswana,
Malawi, Kenya, and Uganda.

REPORTING GUIDES AND • Safety, Dignity and Freedom: A Nar-

MEDIA ANALYSIS rative Study on the Experiences of
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender,
• Investigating Anti-LGBTQI+ Hate: A and Intersex (LGBTI+) People within
Reporting Guide for Journalists165 is a Mainstream Media in Botswana,
2019 Taboom Media handbook fea- Malawi, Zimbabwe, South Africa
turing relevant background, tips, and and Namibia169 is a 2019 report by
sources to help journalists investigate Iranti that includes a 2018 baseline
and report on how faith groups and study of mainstream media coverage
NGOs foment anti-LGBTQI+ hatred of LGBTI+ issues and identifies key
around the world. thematic areas, trends, and respons-
es of media consumers.
• Mediating Tolerance: Journalism and
LGBTI+ Coverage in Sub-Saharan • Out in the Media? Knowledge,
Africa166 (video) was a 2017 panel Attitudes and Practices of the Media
Taboom Media organized with towards Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual,
journalist trainees from our 2016 Transgender and Intersex Issues and
Cape Town workshop. This flagship Stories170 is a 2006 report by Gay and
panel at the National Endowment Lesbian Memory in Action (GALA) that
for Democracy in Washington, D.C. looks at South African media and pro-
addresses reporting challenges vides a historic benchmark from which
and opportunities journalists face to assess current reporting.
when covering religion and SSOGIE
issues in Kenya, Nigeria, Uganda, • Reporting Homophobia in the
Namibia, South Africa, and beyond. Zimbabwean and Nigerian Media171
is a 2014 report published by the
• Who is the message for? Communicat- International Federation of Journalists.
ing strategically to win public hearts Although it contains problematic
and minds167 (video) was a panel that language and framing, the report pro-
took place at the Other Foundation’s vides some useful historical context on
2019 Kopano. The panel of journalists media coverage in both countries.
and media experts addressed how
LGBTQI+ activists frame their public

76 A Reporting Guide for Journalists

• Iranti’s 2019 Reference Guide for - Investigative Reporting: The Funda-
Media Practitioners and News Out- mentals by Mark Schoofs179
lets172 provides a glossary of terms for
journalists covering LGBTQI+ issues - LGBTQI + SSOGIE Source Develop-
ment by Brian Pellot180
in Africa and specific tips for writing
about transgender, bisexual, and - Documenting LGBTQI Hate Crimes &
intersex people. Discrimination by Jabu Pereira181

• ProjektHope’s Guidebook to Reporting - An Overview Using Data by Brant

Gender and Sexuality173, published Houston & Jennifer LeFleur182
in 2015, offers practical advice for
journalists reporting on LGBTI issues in • Security in-a-Box’s guide to digital
Nigeria. It includes sections on under- security for the LGBTI community in
standing gender and sexuality in the Sub-Saharan Africa183 provides tips
African context and their implications that are equally relevant for journalists
for public health. reporting on the community.

• The Radical Copyeditor’s Style Guide • The Journalist Survival Guide184 is a series of
for Writing About Transgender Peo- animated videos produced by the Samir
ple174 from 2017 provides useful tips Kassir eyes (SKeyes) Center for Media and
for accurate and sensitive coverage of Cultural Freedom in Lebanon in 2012.
gender-diverse topics and sources. It includes tips on protecting source identi-
ty185, journalists’ international rights186,
• The Global Investigative Journalism Net- how to protect your computer against
work175 put together this spreadsheet176 hacking187, how to get a secure internet
with links to more than 50 international connection188, and how to secure your
data sets, studies, national groups and Skype account189.
places to find expert sources to help
journalists investigate issues affecting • Digital Security and Source Protec-
LGBTQ communities. Included are links tion For Journalists190, published by
to annual surveys on global attitudes Tow Center for Digital Journalism at
and laws, United Nations reports, major Columbia Journalism School in 2014,
regional reports, news sources, NGO offers strategies for reducing source
contacts, and more. exposure online.

• GIJN also assembled a collection of • Homophobia and Transphobia in

exemplary investigative reporting on Caribbean Media: A Baseline Study191,
issues affecting LGBTQ communities177 published by Outright International
and the following presentations from a in 2015, encourages regional media
panel on investigating LGBTQ issues178 to: promote self-regulation among
held at the 10th Global Investigative media groups in the pursuit of ethical
Journalism Conference in Johannesburg and fair-minded coverage; ensure
in 2017: accountability for unethical and unbi-

77 A Reporting Guide for Journalists

ased coverage; issue joint statements Response Coalition199 website includes
condemning prejudicial and biased a database of LGBTQI+ media coverage
reporting on LGBTI individuals; pro- from across Africa. The database is search-
vide training for journalists on how to able by country, topic, identity, and other
ethically cover LGBTI-related events; criteria. Please help us grow the database
and promote the voices of LGBTI activ- by submitting media clips200.
ists and organizations in media cover-
age that affect the community. These • South Africa’s Mail & Guardian hosts
guidelines have global relevance. an archive201 of Carl Collison’s excel-
lent coverage of issues facing queer
• The Solutions Journalism Network’s Basic African communities during his three
Toolkit192 is an interactive guide that years as the newspapers Rainbow
offers tips to help journalists produce Fellow (2016-19).
rigorous and compelling reporting
about responses to social issues. • Alturi202 is an online hub for news, sto-
ries, and advocacy that aims to edu-
• Handbook for Conflict Sensitive Jour- cate and engage individual supporters
nalism193, published by International who want to help improve the lives of
Media Support in 2004, offers tips to LGBTI people worldwide. They send
help journalists report information to out a weekly roundup of LGBTQI+
the public in times of conflict without news from around the world.
exacerbating tensions. IMS has also Contact:
created country-specific handbooks
for Zimbabwe194, Rwanda195, and • Openly203 is the Thomson Reuters
Kenya196. Foundation’s platform for global
LGBTQI+ news coverage. The team
• Conflict-Sensitive Reporting Guide197, sends a weekly newsletter. Contact
published by UNESCO in 2009, aims editor Hugo Greenhalgh: Hugo.
to strengthen media’s capacity to
contribute to dialogue, mutual under-
standing, reconciliation, and peace. • Erasing 76 Crimes204 blog focuses
on the human toll of anti-LGBTI laws
around the world and local struggles
STORIES AND NARRATIVES to repeal them. Contact: stewacster@,
• Taboom Media’s reporting series on
the intersection of LGBTQI+ rights • Arcus Update205 is a biweekly news-
and religion in Sub-Saharan Africa198 letter curated by Cindy Rizzo, vice
features dozens of stories that address president of the Arcus Foundation’s
religion, sex, sexual orientation, gen- social justice program. Each edition
der identity and expression in more includes several articles addressing
than 20 countries on the continent. global LGBTQ social justice. Sign up at
• Taboom’s Media Monitoring and

78 A Reporting Guide for Journalists

• Mamba Online207 is a South African news • Dipolelo Tsa Rona -- Our Stories212 is
and lifestyle website that features stories a collection of personal essays pub-
by and about LGBTQI+ communities. lished in 2016 by Lesbians, Gays and
Bisexuals of Botswana (LeGaBiBo).
• Boldly Queer: African Perspectives
on Same-Sex Sexuality and Gender • Trans Smart Trust started producing
Diversity208 is a 2015 book published the Purple Royale podcast213 address-
by Hivos that includes articles, essays, ing transgender lives in Zimbabwe
stories, and photographs that high- and Intersex Society of Zambia
light a growing understanding of LGBT produces a similar podcast (see their
rights struggles and realities on the Facebook page214) about regional
African continent. It includes contribu- intersex issues in 2019, both with
tions from 17 scholars, activists, and support from the Children’s Radio
writers across Africa. Foundation.

• This Is How the Heart Beats: LGBTQ East • Quorum215 (video) is a 2015 video
Africa209, published in 2020, is part of series from the Daily Beast featuring
the Diverse Humanity LGBTQ-Themed LGBT activists from the Global South.
Photo Book Series showcasing the rich
diversity and complexity of LGBTQ com- • God Loves Uganda216 (video) a 2013
munities around the world. The books film that documents the connection
spotlight marginalized and frequently between North American evangelical-
persecuted communities that have ism and homophobia in Uganda. The
challenged rigid definitions of family documentary is available on Netflix.
and personhood. The project explores
• African Pride217 (video) is a 2014 film
gender diversity, gender expression,
that documents how black lesbians
and sexual orientation championing a
and allied activists are rallying to
view of humanity that moves beyond
stop homophobic violence in South
binary perceptions.
Africa’s townships. Contact filmmaker
• Queering Cape Town210 is a 2016 Laura Fletcher to request access to the
book curated by Zethu Matebeni that full film (
examines some of the intersectional
• Missionaries of Hate218 (video) is a
dichotomies that exist within and
2010 documentary by Current TV’s
among “the gay capital of Africa’s”
Vanguard journalism program that
LGBTQI+ communities.
profiles Scott Lively and other Ameri-
• Bombastic211 is an occasional mag- can evangelicals who have exported
azine produced by Kuchu Times in messages of anti-LGBTQI+ hate to
Uganda that addresses the local Uganda and elsewhere around the
LGBTQI+ community’s lives and world. The documentary is available in
concerns. full on YouTube.

79 A Reporting Guide for Journalists



80 A Reporting Guide for Journalists

Sub-Saharan Source Guide:

This section provides contact details for cess coordinator Thuli Mjwara (thuli@
organizations and individuals who can,
serve as sources or provide leads and +27 21 975 8142.
story ideas to enhance your coverage
of SSOGIE minorities and religion. • Compassion-Centred Islam220: Com-
The source guide is broken down by passion-Centred Islam, based in Cape
region (Southern, Eastern, Western, Town, provides support to Muslims
Central, Pan-Africa and International) and who are marginalized based on their
clumped together by country. All links sexual orientation and gender identity.
are valid and accurate as of April 2020. The organization strives to raise con-
If a link has since broken, you can search sciousness around gender and sexual
for the organization or individual online. diversity by engaging faith and beliefs
and to encourage collaboration with
queer members of the local, national,
SOUTHERN AFRICA: and international Muslim commu-
nity. Contact founder Imam Muhsin
• Inclusive and Affirming Ministries219 Hendricks: Muhsin@compassion-cen-
(IAM): IAM, based in Cape Town,, admin@compas-
works as a catalyst for full inclusion,
of LGBTI people within mainstream +27 82 892 3519.
churches in Southern Africa and for
the celebration of diversity within • Gay and Lesbian Memory in Action
religious contexts. IAM raises aware- (GALA)221: GALA is a center for
ness of diversity regarding sexual LGBTI culture and education based in
orientation and faith interpretation, Johannesburg. Its mission is to act as a
encouraging people to re-examine catalyst for the production, preserva-
their beliefs and attitude towards ho- tion, and dissemination of knowledge
mosexuality and engage in dialogue in on the history, culture, and contem-
affirming and inclusive ways. Contact porary experiences of LGBTI people in
IAM’s director the Rev. Ecclesia de Africa. GALA’s archival collections can
Lange ( or pro- be viewed by appointment. Contact

81 A Reporting Guide for Journalists

director Keval Harie (keval.harie1@wits. Sonke works closely with a range of or archivist Linda Chernis (linda. organizations and individuals includ- +27 11 717 4239. ing women’s rights organizations,
social movements, trade unions, gov-
• Triangle Project222: Triangle Project is ernment departments, sports associ-
a non-profit human rights organiza- ations, faith-based organizations, me-
tion based in Cape Town that offers dia organizations, university research
professional services to ensure the units, and human rights advocates.
full realization of constitutional and Contact co-executive director Bafana
human rights for LGBTI persons, their Khumalo:
partners, and families. They offer sex- za,,
ual health clinics, counseling, support +27 21 423 7088, +27 82 578 4479.
groups, a helpline, public education
and training services, community • African Men for Sexual Health and
outreach, and a library. Contact Rights (AMSHeR)225: The African
health and support services manager Men for Sexual Health and Rights is a
Sharon Cox ( Johannesburg-based coalition of 18
za) or community engagement and LGBT/MSM (men who have sex with
empowerment manager Pharie Sefali, men)-led organizations across sub-Sa-
who is also a member of a LGBTQI+ haran Africa that works to address
sangoma/traditional healer network the disproportionate effect of HIV/
(, phariesefali@ AIDS on MSM and LGBT individuals;, to redress the human rights violations
+27 21 422 0255. these populations face on the conti-
nent; and to increase the visibility of
• Gender DynamiX223: Gender Dy- LGBT individuals and their issues. Con-
namiX, based in Cape Town, works tact deputy director Juliet Mphande:
towards the realization of all human, communications@
rights of transgender and gender, +27 11 242 6800.
nonconforming people within and
beyond the borders of South Africa. • Sex Workers Education & Advocacy
Contact executive director Liberty Taskforce (SWEAT)226: SWEAT is South
Matthyse: director@genderdynamix. Africa’s leading sex worker rights,, organization working on advocacy,
+27 21 447 4797. human rights defense, and mobiliza-
tion from its head office in Cape Town.
• Sonke Gender Justice224: Sonke SWEAT works closely with LGBTI rights
Gender Justice works across Africa to groups across South Africa. Contact:
strengthen government, civil society, +21 21 448 7875.
and citizen capacity to promote
gender equality, prevent domestic • Centre for Human Rights at the Univer-
and sexual violence, and reduce the sity of Pretoria227: The Centre for Hu-
spread and impact of HIV and AIDS. man Rights at the University of Pretoria

82 A Reporting Guide for Journalists

in South Africa works towards human sex, national origin, heritage, and
rights education in Africa, a greater politics in the region. Contact CEO
awareness of human rights, the wide Neville Gabriel: ngabriel@theother-
dissemination of publications on human, admin@theotherfoun-
rights in Africa, and the improvement, info@theotherfoundation.
of the rights of women, people living org +27 83 449 3934.
with HIV, indigenous peoples, sexual
minorities and other disadvantaged or • Heinrich Böll Foundation Southern
marginalized persons or groups across Africa230: The Heinrich Böll Foundation’s
the continent. Contact Director Frans office in Cape Town works to advance
Viljoen:, chr@ gender and sexual equality in South, +27 12 420 3228, +27 12 Africa, Namibia, and Zimbabwe. The
420 3810 / +27 12 420 3034. foundation partners with key civil society
actors as well as public and religious
• Iranti-org228: Iranti-org is a queer thought leaders to challenge homopho-
human rights visual media orga- bic policies, legislations, and attitudes.
nization based in Johannesburg. Contact human rights program man-
Iranti-org works within a human rights ager Paula Assubuji: Paula.Assubuji@
framework to build local partnerships,,
and movements that use media as +27 21 461 62 66.
a platform for lobbying, advocacy,
and educational interventions across • Open Society Initiative for Southern
Africa. It aims to serve as an archive of Africa (OSISA)231: Based in Johan-
queer memory in ways that destabilize nesburg, OSISIA is committed to
numerous modes of discrimination deepening democracy, protecting
based on gender, sexuality, and sexual human rights, and enhancing good
orientation. Contact director Jabu governance in Southern Africa. OSI-
Pereira:, getin- SA’s vision is to promote and sustain, +27 11 339 1476, the ideals, values, institutions, and
+27 11 339 1468. practices of open society, with the aim
of establishing vibrant and tolerant re-
• The Other Foundation229: The Other gional democracies in which people,
Foundation is an African trust that ad- free from material and other depriva-
vances equality and freedom in South- tion, understand their rights and re-
ern Africa with a particular focus on sponsibilities and participate actively
sexual orientation and gender identity. in all spheres of life. Contact LGBTI
It gathers support to defend and program manager Ian Southey-Swartz:
advance the human rights and social, +27 11 587 5000.
inclusion of LGBTI people and offers
support to groups in ways that enable • Southern Africa Litigation Centre232:
them to work effectively for lasting The Southern Africa Litigation Centre’s
change, recognizing the particular LGBT and Sex Worker Rights Pro-
dynamics of race, poverty, inequality, gramme works to end discrimination

83 A Reporting Guide for Journalists

and mistreatment faced by people Tshepo Ricki Kgositau or senior
who identify as such throughout researcher Lucinda van den Heever:
Southern Africa. Contact Anneke,
Meerkotter:, communications@accountability.
+27 10 596 8538. international.

• Coalition of African Lesbians233: The • Children’s Radio Foundation237:

Coalition of African Lesbians (CAL) is The Children’s Radio Foundation trains
a regional network of organizations young reporters across Africa, giving
in Sub-Saharan Africa committed them the radio and broadcast skills to
to advancing freedom, justice, and make their voices heard and create
bodily autonomy for all women on opportunities for youth dialogue,
the African continent and beyond. It community building, and leadership.
is based in Johannesburg. Contact They have several LGBTQI+ projects
media and communications manager including a media advocacy toolkit
Caroline:,info@ for civil society activists. Contact ex-, +27 11 403 0007, ecutive director Mike Rahfaldt: mike@
+27 11 403 0158., info@,
• Intersex South Africa234: Intersex South +27 21 465 6965.
Africa is dedicated to raising awareness of
intersex issues in South Africa while advo- • Tulinam238: Tulinam is Inclusive and
cating and supporting all intersex South Affirming Ministries’ Namibian partner
Africans. Contact chairperson Crystal organization. Contact Madelene:
+264 8169 47699.
• Positive Vibes235: Positive Vibes, based
in Cape Town and with additional offic- • Wings to Transcend Namibia239:
es in Namibia, works to ensure that LGB- Wings to Transcend Namibia advo-
TI people are empowered to respond cates and lobbies for the equal rights
effectively to discrimination and health of transgender citizens and strives
challenges. Contact executive director to eradicate transphobia, stigma,
Flavian Rhode: flavian@positivevibes. discrimination, and violence against
org,, transgender Namibians. Contact
+27 21 422 4272. communications and advocacy officer
Teddy Kandjou:,
• Accountability International236: +264 61 237329.
Accountability International (for-
merly AIDS Accountability Interna- • Out-Right Namibia240: ORN, based
tional) is an African-led civil society in Windhoek, Namibia, is an LGBTI,
organization that works to improve MSM (men who have sex with men),
accountability to the most margin- WSW (women who have sex with
alized. Contact executive director women) human rights organization

84 A Reporting Guide for Journalists

that offers psychological counseling the most prominent LGBTI organization
and support groups for survivors of gen- in Botswana. Contact Bradley (dblfortu-
der-based violence, holds conferences or Caine (caineyoung-
and workshops, and raises awareness legabibo@legabibo.
of issues affecting the LGBTI community. org, +267 316 74 25.
Contact: advocacy@outrightnamibia., reception@outrightnamibia. • Rainbow Identity Association245:, +264 61 237 329. Rainbow Identity Association focuses
on the needs and rights of Botswana’s
• GALZ241: GALZ (originally Gays and transgender and intersex communities.
Lesbians of Zimbabwe) was founded It was formed by a group of concerned
in 1990 to serve the needs and inter- activists in 2008. Contact advocacy and
ests of LGBTI people in Zimbabwe and media officer Urbenia Kgwarae: urbe-
to push for social tolerance of sexual, rainbowid@
minorities and the repeal of homopho-, +267 71 546 011.
bic legislation. It is Zimbabwe’s leading
• Botswana Network on Ethics, Law and
LGBTI organization. Contact Samuel
HIV/AIDS246: BONELA is a non-gov-
Matsikure (, Sylvester
ernmental organization (NGO) for-
(Munya) Nyamatendedza (research@
mally established in 2001 to support, or Chester Samba (direc-
human rights initiatives in the area of +263 4741736, +263
HIV/AIDS and to protect and promote
4740614. Contact Teddy Munyimani in
the rights of all people affected by
Bulawayo (
HIV/AIDS. Contact: bonela@bonela.
• Trans Smart Trust242: Trans Smart org, +267 393 2516.
Trust is a nonprofit organization that
• LAMBDA Association Mozambique:247
promotes the identification, inclusion,
LAMBDA works to ensure the econom-
integration, and assimilation of human
ic, political, and social rights of LGBT cit-
rights issues affecting transgender per-
izens in Mozambique. Contact Danilo or
sons in Zimbabwe. Contact director
Frank on Facebook or at franklileza90@
Gumisayi Bonzo: bgumisayi@gmail., +258 21 304 816.
+263 77 275 3387. • Eswatini Sexual and Gender Minori-
ties:248 Eswatini Sexual & Gender
• Sexual Rights Centre243: The Sexual Rights
Minorities works to advance the protec-
Centre (SRC) in Bulawayo is a human
tion of LGBTI persons’ human rights in
rights organization that supports marginal-
Eswatini (formerly Swaziland). Contact
ized groups, including LGBTQI+ people,
founder and managing director Melusi
in Zimbabwe. Contact via the website:
Simelane: melusi@eswatiniminorities.
• LeGaBiBo244: LeGaBiBo, originally Les- +268 7906 5354.
bians, Gays & Bisexuals of Botswana, is

85 A Reporting Guide for Journalists

• Friends of Rainka: Friends of Rainka tory and oppressive cultural practices
started in 2007 as a youth empower- and laws relating to sex development
ment organization for people living variations and gender variance in Zam-
with HIV in Zambia. They advocate for bia. Contact: intersexzambia@gmail.
legal reform to benefit marginalized com, +260 770739726.
minorities. Contact: info.friendsofrain- • LGBTI Sey:252 LGBTI Sey works to provide
an open, safe, inclusive space and com-
• ZANERELA+249: The Zambia Network munity committed to challenging sexism,
of Religious Leaders Living with or genderism, homophobia, biphobia,
Personally Affected by HIV and AIDS transphobia, and heterosexism in the Sey-
(ZANERELA+) is a chapter of the chelles. Contact:
international network of religious
leaders – lay and ordained, women • Centre for the Development of
and men living with, or personally People253: CEDEP is an organization
affected, by HIV (INERELA+). They based in Malawi that works with me-
work to challenge stigma and deliver dia and religious leaders to defend the
evidenced-based prevention, care, welfare of marginalized communities,
and treatment services. Contact: ken- including prisoners, sex workers, and, gershom- LGBTI people. Contact director Gift Trapence:,,
• Transbantu Association of Zambia250: +265 1761696.
Transbantu Association of Zambia
undertakes advocacy, education, em- • Ivy Foundation254: Ivy Foundation is
powerment, law, and policy initiatives a Malawi-based LBIQ human rights
to enable trans-diverse and intersex organization that primarily focuses on in-
people to enjoy their full potential tersex issues. Contact executive director
and access social justice. Contact: Sammie Macjessie: samanthamacjes-,, +265 881 866 808.
+260 968953153.
• Nyasa Rainbow Alliance (NRA)255:
• Intersex Society of Zambia251: Intersex Nyasa Rainbow Alliance is a LGBTQI+
Society of Zambia (ISSZ) works to rights group based in Blantyre, Mala-
create awareness and advance human wi. Contact via Facebook or at
rights protection and support for
intersex children and adults. ISSZ
• MANERELA+256: The Malawi Network
uses rights-based advocacy, evi-
of Religious Leaders Living with
dence-based information dissemina-
or personally affected by HIV and
tion, and public education to promote
AIDS (MANERELA+) is an interfaith
access to affirming sexual and
networking and advocacy organiza-
reproductive health services, support
tion that is geared towards bringing
research, and challenge discrimina-
together faith leaders who are living

86 A Reporting Guide for Journalists

with or personally affected by HIV became the first civil rights organiza-
and AIDS in Malawi. MANERELA+ is tion that advocates for LGBTQI+ rights
the national chapter of the Interna- to be legally registered by the An-
tional Network of Religious Leaders golan government. Contact director
living with or personally affected by Carlos Fernandes: carlos.irisangola@
HIV and AIDS (INERELA+). Con-, +244 937439100, +244
tact:, 929082666.
• Arquivo de Identidade Angolano261:
• Malawi Centre for Solutions Jour- Arquivo de Identidade Angolano is a
nalism257: The Malawi Centre for collective of LBTIQ Angolan feminist
Solutions Journalism (CSJ) based women who work to improve public
in Blantyre promotes human rights perceptions of sexual and gender
through advocacy, civic education, minorities and the lives of all LGBTQI+
community outreach programs, people. Contact Paula Sebastião:
stakeholders’ engagement, and arquivodeidentidadeangolano@
behavioral change communications.
CSJ has conducted media monitoring
and led several reporting workshops • Young Queer Alliance262 empowers
on LGBTQI+ issues. Contact executive young LGBTI people in Mauritius to
director Brian Ligomeka: drbrianligo@ promote equality. Contact president, Lasavanne Jürgen Soocramanien
(, +230
• Sorakanto258 is an organization for arts and 5906-2559) or founder Fokeerbux Na-
culture journalists in Madagascar. Their jeeb Ahmad (,
2019/20 news media training initiative +230 5705-3507): info@youngqueeralli-
focuses on LGBTQI+ rights. Contact Do-, +230 5807 3829.
moina Ratsara: domoina.ratsara@gmail.
com, +261 32 86 359 39. • Collectif Arc en Ciel263: Collectif
Arc en Ciel is an association based
• Seeds of Hope259: Seeds of Hope, in Mauritius that campaigns against
formerly Droits Humains Madagascar, homophobia and the various forms
is a non-profit human rights organiza- of discrimination linked to sexual
tion in Madagascar that promotes the orientation. Contact director Aschwin
participation of youth in governance Ramenah:,
and leadership. Contact Rado Harint- +230 465 4596.
soa Rakotosamimanana: rrakotosami-, sohope@gmail. • Dis-Moi Indian Ocean264: Droits Hu-
com, +261 34 72 064 16. mains Océan Indien (Dis-Moi Indian
Ocean) is a human rights organization
• Associação Íris Angola260: Associação in Mauritius that regularly conducts
Íris Angola is an LGBTQI+ rights group training sessions on human rights
based in Luanda, Angola. In 2018 it education for members of the LGBTQI

87 A Reporting Guide for Journalists

community. Contact director Lindley & Sexual and Gender Rights (2019),
Couronne:, +230 and lead editor of To Have and To
466 5673. Hold: The Making of Same-sex Mar-
riage in South Africa (2008). Contact:
• Monica Tabengwa265: Monica
Tabengwa leads Hivos’s Strong in
Diversity, Bold on Inclusion program, • Zethu Matebeni268: Dr. Zethu Mate-
which aims to promote inclusion of beni is a senior researcher at the
LGBT+ people in society and the rec- University of Cape Town’s Sociology
ognition of their rights by opposing Department. With an interest in LGBT
discrimination and stereotyping while life and activism, black queer studies,
also making LGBT+ communities photography, and African cinema,
more resilient. The Harare-based Zethu has created works such as
program has officers in Dakar, Lagos, Reclaiming Afrikan: queer perspectives
Lusaka, Maputo, and Nairobi. She is on sexual and gender identities; Break-
the former director of Pan Africa ILGA. ing out of the box: stories of black
Contact:, + lesbians; Jo’burg TRACKS: Sexuality
263 24 2250463, +263 24 2706125. in the City and Queering Cape Town.
• Sakhisizwe Gcina266: Sakhisizwe +27 21 650 3416.
Gcina is the assistant curator of special
projects at the Zeitz Museum of • Carl Collison269: Carl Collison is a
Contemporary Art Africa (MOCAA)’s freelance journalist based in Cape
Curatorial Lab in Cape Town. He Town who, as the Other Foundation’s
co-curated the Curatorial Lab’s first Rainbow Fellow at the Mail & Guardian,
project, which investigated LGBTQI+ covered issues facing queer and other
representation in the context of marginalized communities extensively.
homophobia and oppression of gay He works with Taboom Media as a
rights in South Africa, and moderated co-trainer. Contact: carlcollison3@
a LGBTQI+ press forum and workshop
in 2017. Contact: sakhisizwe.gcina@, +27 87 350 • Isabella Matambanadzo:270 Isabella
4777, +27 87 350 4755. Matambanadzo is a Zimbabwean
feminist and co-editor of A Beautiful
• Melanie Judge267: Melanie Judge is Strength – A Journal of 80 years of
a queer feminist activist and scholar Women’s Rights Movements and Activ-
who works as an adjunct associate ism in Zimbabwe since 1936. She is a
professor in public law at the Universi- contributing author to the short story
ty of Cape Town. Melanie is author of anthologies Writing Free and to Writ-
Blackwashing Homophobia: Violence ing Mystery and Mayhem (published
and the Politics of Gender, Sexuality by Weaver Press, Harare); contributor
and Race (2018), Keeping the Faith: to the book African Sexualities (ed. Dr.
Working at the Crossroads of Religion Sylvia Tamale), and Beyond Beijing:

88 A Reporting Guide for Journalists

Strategies and Visions Towards Wom- organization based in Mombasa,
en’s Equality (co-ed Patricia Made) Kenya, that organizes outreach ses-
amongst other works. She works sions and workshops with local faith
with Taboom Media as a co-trainer. leaders. Contact executive director
Contact:, +263 242 Ishmael Bahati:,
250 602, +263 4 250 400., pemakenya@, +254 7 13 68 4341.

EASTERN AFRICA: • None on Record274: None on Record is

a media organization based in Nairobi
• UHAI-EASHRI271 - UHAI-EASHRI, the that collects the stories of LGBTI Africans
East African Sexual Health and Rights and produces media content on LGBTI
Initiative, is an indigenous activist fund rights. They have trained East African
based in Nairobi. It provides flexi- journalists on how to better report on
ble, accessible resources to support LGBTI issues and produce the Afro-
civil society activism around issues of Queer podcast. Contact: questions@
sexuality, health, and human rights in
the East African region (Kenya, Uganda,
Tanzania, Rwanda, and Burundi) with • Selly Thiam275: Selly Thiam is a jour-
a specific focus on the rights of sexual nalist and oral historian whose work
minorities. UHAI has an archive of LGBTI has appeared on NPR, PBS and in the
media clippings going back to 2008. New York Times. She was a produc-
Contact Roselyn: roselyn@uhai-eashri. er for the Storycorps Oral History
org,, +254 20 Project, PBS’ Learning Matters and
2330050, +254 20 812 7535. a Carnegie Fellow at the ABC News
Investigative Unit. She is the founder
• Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya and Executive Director of None on
(GALCK)272: GALCK acts as an umbrella Record, an African LGBT digital media
organization for LGBTQI+ organizations organization. Contact: selly@noneon-
in Kenya including Minority Women
in Action, Ishtar MSM, Tea and Gay
Kenya, PEMA Kenya, and Afra Kenya. • National Gay and Lesbian Human
Its mission is to defend the interests and Rights Commission276: NGLHRC is a
rights of LGBTI organizations and their Kenyan organization that provides
members, including their health rights. legal aid to advance equality and
In 2016, GALCK produced the media inclusion of LGBTQI+ persons. Con-
toolkit SSOGIE 101 for the Kenyan Media tact executive director Njeri Gateru:
Professional. Contact:,,,
+254 20 2426060. +254 20 4400525.

• Persons Marginalized and Aggrieved • Jinsiangu277: Jinsiangu is an organi-

(PEMA)273: Persons Marginalized and zation that works to enhance the
Aggrieved (PEMA) is an LGBTI rights wellbeing of intersex, transgender,

89 A Reporting Guide for Journalists

and gender non-conforming people,
in Kenya. It does this by establishing +256 800100040.
safe spaces and through advoca-
cy, research, health services, and • SIPD Uganda282: Support Initiative for
psycho-social support. Contact: People with atypical sex Development, jinsiangu@ (SIPD) Uganda raises awareness about intersex issues and advocates for the
human rights and social acceptance
• David Kuria278: In 2013, David Kuria of intersex people in Uganda. Contact
became Kenya’s first openly gay politi- executive director Julius Kaggwa:
cian to seek office. He writes regularly, aissgeastaf-
about LGBTI issues and heads the, +256 414 693 861.
Kuria Foundation for Social Enterprise,
which aims to enhance social inclusion • Kuchu Times283: Kuchu Times is a
by contributing technical and financial media organization based in Kampala,
resources to socially excluded persons Uganda, that aims to provide a voice for
and groups. Contact: info@kuriafoun- Africa’s LGBTI community. It produces, +254 778 003626. the occasional Bombastic magazine
and provides regular news coverage via
• Sexual Minorities Uganda279: SMUG its website. Contact Kasha Jacqueline
is an umbrella non-governmental or- Nabagesera:,
ganization based in Kampala, Uganda
that advocates for the protection and
promotion of human rights of LGBT • Human Rights Awareness and Pro-
Ugandans. Contact Frank Mugisha: motion Forum (HRAPF)284: HRAPF is, an NGO based in Kampala, Uganda.
+256 39 2174432. Its mission is to promote respect
and observance of human rights for
• Icebreakers Uganda280: Icebreakers marginalized groups, including LGBTI
Uganda is a nonprofit support orga- persons. Contact:,
nization for LGBT people in Uganda. +256 414 530683.
It focuses on sexual health, sexual
health rights advocacy, community • Freedom & Roam Uganda285: FARUG
mobilization and HIV/AIDS awareness is a Ugandan organization that works
and prevention for all LGBT people. to stop harassment and discrimination
Contact: info@icebreakersuganda. against LGBTI people. Contact: info@
com, +256 392853652., +256 392 176977.

• Spectrum Uganda281: Spectrum Ugan- • Uganda Media Women’s Associ-

da, based in Kampala, offers support ation286: Uganda Media Women’s
to promote a healthy and empowered Association (UMWA) is a human rights
community of men who have sex advocacy and service delivery NGO
with men (MSM) in Uganda. Contact: that helps Ugandan women make
informed decisions by providing them

90 A Reporting Guide for Journalists

access to information on rights. It also straight and LGBTI persons. Contact
fights for the rights of women working in U.S.-based executive director Colin
media and counters negative portrayals Stewart: info@saintpaulsfoundation.
of women in local media. Contact: org, +1 949 499 9991., +256 393
113 848, +256 772 469 363. • LGBT VOICE290: LGBT VOICE is an
LGBT rights organization working to
• Human Rights Network for Journalists advance equality, diversity, educa-
- Uganda287: HRNJ works to enhance tion, and justice in Tanzania. Contact:
human rights by defending and building
the capacities of journalists in Ugan-
da from its office in Kampala. HRNJ • Community Health Education Services
researches, monitors and documents & Advocacy (CHESA)291: CHESA,
attacks and threats aimed at journalists, formerly Tanzania Sisi Sex Workers
as well as abuses of press freedom in Network Unit, advocates for sexual
Uganda. They also offer legal support and reproductive health and rights
to journalists who need these services for sex workers and LGBTQI+ people
because of their work. Contact national in Tanzania. The government formally
coordinator Robert Ssempala: coordina- deregistered CHESA in 2019 amid, info@hrnjuganda. broader LGBTQI+ repression. Con-
org, +256 800 144155. tact:, mta-, msengezic2@
• African Centre for Media Excel-, +255 755 970 970.
lence288: ACME is a Uganda-based
organization that strives to improve • Geofrey Mashala292: Geofrey Mashala
professionalism in the media. They is the founder of AMKA Empower-
have worked to improve reporting ment, a community-based group in
on LGBTI issues and religion in local Tanzania that works on human rights,
media. Contact:, empowerment, and health issues of, akakaire@ LGBTQI+ people. He is now based in, +256 393 202351. California. Contact: amkaempower- or on Twitter.
• St. Paul’s Foundation for International
Reconciliation289: St. Paul’s Founda- • Ethiopia LGBT Archive293: Ethiopia
tion for International Reconciliation LGBT Archive aims to be a reference
works to advance LGBTI equality point for everything posted on the
and acceptance in Africa and the web about gay Ethiopians and gay life
Caribbean through media advocacy. in Ethiopia. Contact: happyaddis@
It is affiliated with St. Paul’s Reconcil-
iation and Equality Centre (SPREC),
• Hadra Ahmed294: Hadra Ahmed is an
founded by retired Anglican Bishop in
Ethiopian freelance journalist working
the Church of Uganda Dr. Christopher
with local and international media out-
Senyonjo to reconcile tension among
lets including BBC News and the New

91 A Reporting Guide for Journalists

York Times. She is also CEO of the WESTERN AFRICA:
pan-African company Nubia Media
and Communications. She has report- • Interfaith Diversity Network of West
ed on LGBTQI+ issues in Ethiopia. Africa (IDNOWA)300: IDNOWA was
Contact: founded in 2016, as a regional net-
work of activists, faith-based individu-
• Afdhere Jama295: Afdhere Jama is an als, LGBTQI persons, advocates, and
American writer and filmmaker of individual activists working to advance
Somali origin. He wrote the book the inclusion of and respect for diverse
Being Queer and Somali: LGBT So- persons. Network members are based
malis at Home and Abroad. Contact: in Nigeria, Ghana, Togo, Liberia, Côte d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Mali, Benin,
Sierra Leone, Senegal, and the Gam-
• Humure296: Humure is a human rights
bia. Contact: interfaithdiversitynowa@
organization in Burundi that works to, +233 50 942 5114,
fight all forms of discrimination based
+44 7948 237399.
on sexual orientation and to fight AIDS
within the LGBTI community. Contact: • Initiative Sankofa d’Afrique de l’Ouest, alsahabo. (ISDAO)301: ISDAO is an activist-led fund dedicated to strengthening and
supporting a West African movement
• Christian Rumu297: Christian Rumu,
for gender diversity and sexual rights
originally from Burundi, is Great Lakes
by adopting a flexible approach to
campaigner at Amnesty International
grant-making and building a culture of
in Nairobi. He is the former president
philanthropy committed to equality and
of Humure and has served on UHAI-
social justice. Contact executive director
EASHRI’s board. Contact: christian.
Caroline Kouassiaman:
• Africa Regional Sexuality Resource
• Isange Rwanda298: Isange Rwanda
Centre302: ARSRC, based in Lagos, Ni-
is an umbrella coalition of Rwandan
geria, aims to promote more informed
LGBTI organizations. Contact: isanger-
and affirming public dialogue on
human sexuality and to contribute to
• Rights for All Rwanda (RIFA)299: Rights positive changes in the emerging field
for All Rwanda (RIFA) is an organiza- of sexuality in Africa by creating mech-
tion that works to improve the health, anisms for learning at the regional
rights, and protection of lesbian, level. Contact:, +234
bisexual and transgender sex workers 1 7919307.
and individuals in Rwanda. Contact:
• The Initiative for Equal Rights,
(TIERs)303: TIERs is a Lagos-based NGO
+250 788 645 920.
that works to protect and promote

92 A Reporting Guide for Journalists

the human rights of sexual minorities • Bisi Alimi Foundation308: The Bisi Alimi
at the national and regional levels. Foundation promotes and advocates
Contact executive director Xeenarh for equal opportunity and social
Mohammed: amohammed@initiative- inclusion of LGBT people in Nigeria., info@initiative4equal- Contact:, info@, +234 8099111134, +234
• Club des 7 Jours309: Club des 7 Jours
• Queer African Youth Network : The
advocates for the psychological and
Queer African Youth Network (QAYN) social well-being of LGBT people in
is a queer and feminist organization Togo through cultural events and sup-
founded in 2010 with the aim of estab- port for socio-professional integration.
lishing an extensive support network It is based in Lomé but also works in
to promote the wellbeing and safety Kpalimé, Sokodé, Kara, Tsévié, and
of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender Aného. Contact: clubdes7jours@
and queer people in West Africa., +228 9075917, +228
It is based in Burkina Faso. Contact 91802491.
co-coordinators Nataka Gmakagni
and Solange A. M. Kibibi: contact@ • Fid Thompson310: Fid Thompson has, +226 25 37 48 29. researched LGBTI rights in Western Af-
rica for Human Rights Watch. Contact:
• Rashidi Williams305: Rashidi Williams
founded Queer Alliance Nigeria, a
human rights, health advocacy, and • Panos Institute West Africa311: Panos
support group for LGBTI communities Institute West Africa, based in Dakar,
in the country. Contact: rashwilliams@ Senegal, works to democratize commu-, +234 8136137852. nication and strengthen public spaces
for open African societies. Contact:
• Cheikh Traore306: Dr. Cheikh Eteka, mcoulabaly@
Traore, based in Abuja, Nigeria, works, +221 33 849 16 66.
at the intersection of public health
and human rights. He has trained • Article 19 Senegal and West Africa312:
journalists on how to better report on Article 19 is a British human rights or-
LGBTI rights. Contact: cheikh.eteka@ ganization that focuses on the defense and promotion of freedom of expres-
sion and freedom of information. Arti-
• NoStringsNg307: is a cle 19 has an office in Dakar, Senegal.
Nigerian advocacy media platform for Contact director Fatou Jagne: fatouj@
LGBTQI+ news and information. Its aim, westafrica@article19.
is to debunk negative stereotypes in org, +221 33 869 03 22.
mainstream media against the Nigerian
LGBTQI+ community. Contact Mike • Association Prudence313: Association
(pseudonym): Prudence/Senegal Tomorrow is a
legal defense fund that seeks to assist

93 A Reporting Guide for Journalists

those who face discrimination on the • Benin Synergies Plus (BESYP)318:
basis of race or ethnic origin, religion, BESYP is an organization based in
gender, age, disability, marital status, Cotonou, Benin, that advocates for
or sexual orientation. Contact Nick the rights of key populations that have
Diamond or Djamil Bangoura: nick. the highest risk of contracting and, pru- transmitting HIV, including female sex, djamilban- workers and men who have sex with, +221 77 651 5282, men (MSM). Contact: besypbenin@
+221 77 903 1221, +1 248 931 2115., +229 67 18 11 81.

• Espace Confiance314: Espace Confi- • Human Rights Advocacy Centre319:

ance and its specialized health center The Human Rights Advocacy Centre
Clinique de Confiance work to reduce (HRAC) is a not-for-profit, indepen-
the spread of HIV and other sexually dent, non-partisan, research, and ad-
transmitted infections among key vocacy organization set up to advance
populations in Côte d’Ivoire. Contact and protect human rights in Ghana.
Dr. Aka Emmanuel: +225 21 25 41 23, Contact George Owoo: george@
+225 21 35 28 62., +233 302 768 733,
+233 264 214 018.
• Charlotte Campo315: Charlotte Campo
is Associate Human Rights Officer at • Solace Initiative320: Solace Initiative
the West Africa Regional Office of the works to promote and protect the
United Nations’ High Commissioner human rights of LGBTQI+ people in
for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Dakar, Ghana. They also train paralegals to
Senegal. Contact: ccampo@ohchr. defend the rights of LGBT people in
org, +221 33 869 89 76. the country. Contact: info@solaceini-, +233 30 273 6714.
• REPMASCI316: REPMASCI (Réseau des
Professionnels des Médias, des Arts, • Alliance for Equality and Diversity
et des Sports pour la Lutte Contre le (AfED)321: AfED is an LGBTQI+-led
SIDA et les Autres Pandémies en Côte national coalition of organizations,
d’Ivoire) helps fight against stigmatiza- individuals, and professional allies
tion of LGBTI people in Côte d’Ivoire. who work to protect and provide a
Contact President Bintou Sanogo via safe haven for queer people in Ghana.
Facebook or at +225 22 42 16 94. Contact:, +233
302 273 6714, +233 202 862 132,
• Thérèse Donu317: Thérèse Donu is a
+233 553 133 577.
lawyer from Togo and JusticeMakers
Fellow at International Bridges to Justice, • Stop AIDS in Liberia (SAIL)322: Stop
an international organization dedicated AIDS in Liberia (SAIL) is a Liberian
to protecting the basic legal rights of organization that addresses issues
individuals in developing countries. affecting sexual orientation and gen-
Contact:, der identity minorities and other key
+228 22 43 27 22, +228 91 53 62 14

94 A Reporting Guide for Journalists

populations at risk of contracting or • Jeunialissime327: Jeunialissime is an ad-
transmitting HIV, including sex work- vocacy group in Kinshasa that works
ers and injecting drug users. Contact: to fight stigma and discrimination, faced by LGBTI youth in the Democrat-
+231 77 715 7753. ic Republic of Congo. They produce
Jeuniafrica, a weekly radio program
• Liberia Women Empowerment that seeks to challenge the negative
Network323: The Liberia Women attitudes toward Kinshasa’s LGBTI
Empowerment Network focuses on community. Contact founder Patou
women and girls living and or affected Izai:, +243
by HIV/AIDS in Liberia. They also work 828 683 358.
with local LGBTI groups. Contact:, liwen_liwen@ • Action pour la Lutte Contre l’Injustice, +231 776538809, +231 Sociale (ALCIS)328: ALCIS advocates
886133299. for the rights of sexual minorities in
Bukavu in the Democratic Repub-
• Journal Rage324: Journal Rage is an lic of Congo. Contact co-founder
online news magazine platform that and chairperson Alphonse Mihigo:
brings sexual minority issues to the, +243
spotlight in Liberia. Contact news 828 247 071.
curator Gboko Stewart via the Journal
Rage contact page. • Ligue Centrafricaine des Droits de
l’Homme (LCDH)329: The Central
• Dignity Association325: Dignity Asso- African Republic League of Human
ciation is an organization in Freetown, Rights, based in the capital of Bangui,
Sierra Leone that campaigns for LGBT advances human rights in the country.
rights. Contact: hudsont@dignityasso- Contact president Joseph Bindoumi:, +236 75 50
76 74, +236 72 28 54 58.
• Yves Yomb330: Yves Yomb served as
executive director of the LGBTQI+
• Rainbow Sunrise Mapambazuko326:
rights group Alternatives Cameroun in
Rainbow Sunrise Mapambazuko,
Douala, Cameroon. He works to pro-
based in the South Kivu province
mote equality, tolerance, and respect
of the Democratic Republic of the
for sexual and gender minorities and
Congo, facilitates education, coor-
all people who suffer from social ex-
dination, and outreach to those who
clusion. Contact: guyphoide@yahoo.
identify as LGBTI and networks with
other organizations to build respect
+237 698 48 26 14.
for LGBTI rights in the region. Contact:, • Cameroonian Foundation for AIDS
+243 813 900 273. (CAMFAIDS)331: CAMFAIDS works to

95 A Reporting Guide for Journalists

curb the spread of HIV among Cam- expressions (SSOGIE). PAI is based
eroon’s LGBT community and fights in Johannesburg. Contact executive
against homophobia and discrimina- director Nate Brown: admin@panafr-
tion. Contact executive director Nick-, +27 11 339 1139.
el Kamen Liwandi Rashid: camfaidset-, +237 694 • Global Interfaith Network for People
09 2113, +237 675 35 3835. of All Sexes, Sexual Orientations,
Gender Identities and Expressions
• Humanity First Cameroon332: Human- (GIN-SSOGIE)336: GIN-SSOGIE, based
ity First Cameroon is an association in South Africa but operating globally,
that combats HIV/AIDS and defends aims to promote interfaith dialogue
and protects the human rights of and to strengthen LGBTQI+ voices
vulnerable people including the within religious institutions and struc-
LGBTQI+ community. Contact human tures. They provide resources, train-
rights officer Yves Tonkeu via Face- ing, and collective programs to help
book: individuals and organizations engage
humanityfirstcameroon. in meaningful, constructive dialogue
with religious leaders and to advocate
at the regional and international levels
PAN-AFRICA AND for dignity and rights. Contact execu-
INTERNATIONAL: tive director Toni Kruger-Ayebazibwe
or program manager Pierre Buckley:
• ILGA World333: ILGA (the International, ginssogie@
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Inter-, +27 104461990.
sex Association) is a worldwide feder-
ation of 1,200 member organizations • OutRight Action International337: Out-
from 125 countries that campaign for right (formerly known as International
LGBTI rights. ILGA’s staff is based in Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Com-
Geneva. ILGA’s website hosts a list of mission) is a U.S.-based INGO that ad-
member organizations334 by region dresses human rights violations against
and country. The list includes about LGBTI people. They have an office in
200 organizations in about 40 African Johannesburg that works on Sub-Saha-
countries. Contact executive director ran LGBTI rights. Their website features
Andre du Plessis or senior communi- hundreds of reports dating back to the
cations officer Daniele Paletta: andre- early 1990s. These country-specific and,, global reports can be sorted by specific, +41 22 7313254. issues including legal discrimination,
privacy and family, criminal injustice,
• Pan Africa ILGA (PAI)335: PAI is Africa’s crackdowns on activists, trans and
regional ILGA body. It is a federation intersex rights, and safety and security.
of organizations that work to improve Contact executive director Jessica Stern:
human rights based on sex, sexual ori-, hello@
entation, gender identity, and gender, +1 212 430

96 A Reporting Guide for Journalists

• American Jewish World Service338: tice program director Adrian Coman
American Jewish World Service is an (, inter-
international development and human national social justice program officer
rights organization headquartered in Erica Lim (,
New York City. AJWS supports wom- or global media director Sebastian
en, girls, and LGBT people, as they Naidoo (snaidoo@arcusfoundation.
organize to end discrimination, stop org): +1 212 488 3000.
violence, and live with dignity, safety,
and health. Contact director of sexual • Human Dignity Trust343: The Human
health and rights Javid Syed: ajws@ Dignity Trust is a legal charity based,, +1 212 792 in London that supports those who
2900, +1 800 889 7146, want to challenge anti-LGBTQI+ laws
+1 212 792 2851. wherever they exist in the world. They
support local activists and lawyers to
• GLAAD339: GLAAD is a U.S.-based me- uphold international human rights law,
dia monitoring organization that works including the right to dignity, equality,
to promote understanding, increase and privacy. Contact director Téa
acceptance, and advance equality for Braun (teabraun@humandignitytrust.
LGBTQI+ people. GLAAD’s Commen- org) or head of strategic communi-
tator Accountability Project340 highlights cations Emma Eastwood (emmaeast-
commentators’ false, defamatory, and +44
dangerous anti-LGBTQI+ statements 20 7419 3770.
and calls attention to the sentiments
behind them. Contact senior director • Kaleidoscope Trust344: The Kaleido-
of education and training at the GLAAD scope Trust, based in London, works
Media Institute Ross Murray: rmurray@ to uphold the human rights of LGBT, +1 646 871-8040. people in the Commonwealth and
beyond, wherever individuals are
• NLGJA: The Association of LGBTQ Jour- discriminated against because of their
nalists341: NLGJA is a U.S.-based network sexual orientation and/or gender
for LGBTQ media professionals and identity. Contact: executive director
allies dedicated to the highest journalis- Phyll Opoku-Gyimah or deputy direc-
tic standards in the coverage of LGBTQ tor Jesse Sperling: jesse@kaleidosco-
issues. They host an annual conference, info@kaleidoscopetrust.
in the U.S. Contact executive director com, +44 20 8133 6460.
Adam Pawlus:, info@, +1 202 588 9888. • Gill Foundation345: The Gill Foun-
dation is one of the United States’
• Arcus Foundation342: The Arcus leading funders of efforts to secure
Foundation is a charitable foundation full equality for LGBT people. Contact
focused on issues related to LGBTQI+ president Brad Clark (bclark@gillfoun-
rights, social justice, and conserva- or program director Sara
tion. Contact international social jus- Santos (

97 A Reporting Guide for Journalists, +1 303 292 fear, and with dignity. Contact Africa
4455, +1 888 530 4455. and Asia program officer Lame Olebile
( or
• Fund for Global Human Rights346: The strategic communications program
Fund for Global Human Rights has manager Raviva Hanser (rhanser@
made recent grants to groups working
on LGBTI rights in Burundi, Democrat- +1 212 529 8021.
ic Republic of Congo, Liberia, and
Sierra Leone. Contact vice president • The Fellowship of Affirming Minis-
for programs David Mattingly (dmat- tries349: The U.S.-based Fellowship of or Affirming Ministries aims to support
program officer for Sub-Saharan Africa religious teachers and laity in moving
Tony Tate (ttate@globalhumanrights. towards a theology of radical inclusiv-
org):, ity. The Fellowship Global provides, pastoral care for LGBTI people
+1 202 347 7488. and supports pioneering efforts to
establish open and affirming African
• ARC International347: ARC Interna- Christian movements in Kenya, Ugan-
tional, based in Geneva, Switzerland, da, Rwanda, Zimbabwe, and Cote
advances LGBT rights and facilitates d’Ivoire. Contact executive director
strategic planning around LGBT issues Bishop Joseph Tolton: jtolton@
internationally, strengthening global, tfamannu-
networks, and enhancing access to, +1 415 861 6130.
United Nations mechanisms. They
have played a key role in the develop- • House Of Rainbow350: House Of
ment of the Yogyakarta Principles on Rainbow is an inclusive, welcoming,
the application of International Human and affirming religious community to
Rights Law in relation to Sexual Orien- all people, including sexual minorities
tation and Gender Identity. Contact and marginalized people, based in
founder Kim Vance-Mubanga (kim@ the U.K. It was founded in London by or director of the Rev. Rowland Jide Macaulay, an
research and practice Arvind Narrain openly gay African theologian who
( works with groups across the conti-
nent. Contact: jide@houseofrainbow.
• Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Jus- org,, +44
tice348: The Astraea Lesbian Founda- 20 8555 9222, +44 7521 130179.
tion for Justice works exclusively to
advance LGBTQI human rights around • The Initiative for Strategic Litigation
the globe. The Foundation supports in Africa351: The Initiative for Strategic
grantee partners in the U.S. and inter- Litigation in Africa, based in Johannes-
nationally and works for racial, eco- burg, is a pan-African and feminist-led
nomic, social, and gender justice so initiative that aims to contribute to
that everyone can live freely, without the development of jurisprudence

98 A Reporting Guide for Journalists

on sexual rights and women’s human tively engage on Sexual Orientation,
rights on the continent by providing Gender Identity and Expression
expertise on strategic litigation. (SOGIE) issues as well as the affected
Contact executive director Sibongile communities. Contact program officer
Ndashe:, +27 11 Marie Ramtu in Nairobi: mramtu@
338 9024.,, +254
718201821, +254 203969000.
• African Gender Institute352: The Afri-
can Gender Institute at the University • Human Rights Watch355: Human
of Cape Town is a teaching, learning, Rights Watch’s website features news,
and research institute which focuses reports, and other resources on LGBTI
on issues of gender and development rights. It also features Country Profiles
on the African continent. The AGI on Sexual Orientation and Gender
has delivered innovative integrated Identity356 and maps of anti-LGBT
outcomes on gender justice, sexuality, laws357 from around the world. Con-
and human rights, peace and conflict tact New York-based director of the
studies, and capacity building in rela- LGBT rights program Graeme Reid:
tion to gender and women’s studies., +1 212 290 4700.
+27 21 650 2970. • Neela Ghoshal358: Neela Ghoshal is a
senior researcher with Human Rights
• Church World Service (CWS)353: CWS Watch’s LGBT Rights Program. She
works to create a safe space for LGBTI researches rights abuses affecting
persons, providing both resettlement sexual and gender minorities and
for LGBTI refugees and protection to other marginalized groups in several
those still facing the fear of persecu- African countries. Contact: ghoshan@
tion. CWS currently works with LGBTI, +1-202-612-4321.
communities in both Africa and the
United States in order to safeguard • United Nations Free & Equal359: UN
the human rights of all persecuted Free & Equal is an initiative of the Unit-
persons and provide services that ed Nations Human Rights Office that
address the needs of the LGBTI com- aims to promote global LGBTI rights
munity, engaging faith communities and combat homophobia and trans-
to achieve impact. Contact: media@ phobia. Contact:, +1 212 870 2188.
• Victor Madrigal-Borloz360: Victor
• Network of African National Human Madrigal-Borloz is the UN Independent
Rights Institutions (NANHRI)354: Expert on Protection against violence
NANHRI is a regional umbrella body and discrimination based on sexual ori-
that brings together 46 African entation and gender identity. Contact:
National Human Rights Institutions. Its, +41 22 917 90 06.
SOGIE Project aims to strengthen the
• Joel Bedos361: Joel Bedos is execu-
capacity of African NHRIs to effec-
tive director at the International Day

99 A Reporting Guide for Journalists

Against Homophobia, Transphobia & the program “Challenging Religious
Biphobia (IDAHOTB)362. The annual Fundamentalisms”. Her main focus
day is observed on May 17 to draw has been to strengthen advocacy
the attention of policymakers, opinion against the use of arguments based on
leaders, social movements, the religion, culture, and tradition to justify
public, and the media to the violence violations of women’s (and LGBTQI+
and discrimination experienced by persons’) rights in international human
LGBTI people internationally. Contact: rights spaces and across regions and religions. Contact:,
+1 416 594 3773.
• Human Rights Campaign Global363:
Human Rights Campaign’s Global • Michael Heflin366: Michael Heflin is
team runs programs and campaigns the director of equality for the Open
that advance and protect the human Society Human Rights Initiative, which
rights of LGBTQ people around advocates to promote justice, equal-
the world, including those who are ity, and participation of all, including
immigrants and refugees Contact LGBTI individuals and communities367.
HRC Global director Jay Gilliam (jay. Contact: michael.heflin@opensociety- or the team’s founder, +1 212 548 0600.
Ty Cobb (, both
based in Washington, D.C.: +1 202 • Kapya Kaoma368: Kapya Kaoma is an
216-1553, +1 202-628-4160. Anglican priest and the former senior
religion and sexuality researcher at
• Global Network of Rainbow Cath- Political Research Associates. He is the
olics364: The Global Network of author of Colonizing African Values,
Rainbow Catholics (GNRC) brings and American Culture Warriors in
together organizations and individuals Africa: A Guide to the Exporters of Ho-
who work for pastoral care and justice mophobia & Sexism and Globalizing
for LGBTQI+ people and their families. the Culture Wars: U.S. Conservatives,
GNRC works for inclusion, dignity, African Churches, and Homophobia.
and equality in the Roman Catholic Contact:
Church and society, representing at
least 25 groups on six continents. • Mindy Michels369: Mindy Michels
Contact DignityUSA’s executive direc- managed Freedom House’s Dignity
tor Marianne Duddy-Burke: execdir@ for All LGBTI Assistance Program, secretary@gnrcatho- from Washington, D.C. Dignity for,, All provides emergency assistance;
+1 800 877 8797. security, opportunity, and advocacy
rapid response grants (SOAR grants);
• Shareen Gokal365: Shareen Gokal and security assessment and training
is director of special projects at the to human rights defenders and civil
Association for Women’s Rights in society organizations under threat
Development (AWID) and launched or attack due to their work for LGBTI

100 A Reporting Guide for Journalists

human rights. Contact: Michels@free- by partnering with both Muslim and, +1 202 296 5101. non-Muslim progressive organizations
in the U.S. and around the world.
• Tiffany Mugo370: Tiffany Mugo is the Based in Los Angeles. Contact: info@
co-founder and curator of HOLA Africa,, +1 323 696 2678.
a pan Africanist online hub that aims to
share the stories of Africa’s queer female • The Council for Global Equality376:
community and increase the digital visi- The Council for Global Equality is a
bility of queer African women. Contact: coalition of 30 prominent U.S.-based human rights and LGBT advocacy or-
ganizations that together encourage a
• Peter Montgomery371: Peter Mont- clearer and stronger U.S. voice on hu-
gomery is a senior fellow at People For man and democratic rights concerns
the American Way, where he analyzes impacting LGBTI communities around
the Religious Right’s global influence the world. Based in Washington, D.C.
and contributes to the Right Wing Contact council chair Mark Bromley
Watch372 blog. He has religious con- ( or senior
servatism for more than two decades advisor Julie Dorf (Julie@GlobalEquali-
and has written extensively about +1 202 719 0511.
religion and LGBTQI+ issues. Contact:, +1 800 326 7329.

• American Friends Service Committee

(AFSC)373: AFSC is a Quaker organiza-
tion devoted to service, development,
and peace programs throughout the
world. Their work is based on the
belief in the worth of every person,
and faith in the power of love to over-
come violence and injustice. AFSC
has long worked to support LGBTQI+
people374. Based in Philadelphia but
operates globally. Contact: communi-, +1 215 241 7000.

• Muslims for Progressive Values

(MPV)375: MPV establishes and nur-
tures vibrant progressive Muslim com-
munities and speaks as a progressive
Muslim voice on contemporary issues
through policy briefs, by participating
in civil discourse, engaging with the
media and government entities, and

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Contributor Biographies


Brian Pellot is Taboom Media’s377 co-founding director. He

speaks regularly about LGBTQI+ rights and religion at media
and human rights conferences around the world. He is based
in Cape Town, South Africa, where he occasionally freelances
for international news and media outlets. Before Taboom, Brian
served as Religion News Service’s378 director of global strategy,
as Index on Censorship’s379 digital policy advisor, and as Free
Speech Debate’s online editor. He is a volunteer mentor-editor
at The OpEd Project380. Brian graduated from the University
of Missouri with dual degrees in International Convergence
Journalism and International Studies. He completed a master’s
degree in Modern Middle Eastern Studies at Oxford University
on a Marshall Scholarship. Contact:


Debra L. Mason, Ph.D., is a leading scholar and trainer on how

religion is portrayed in the media. As Taboom’s co-founder,
she brings more than 30 years of professional and scholarly
experience. She previously served as director of the Center
on Religion & the Professions at the world-renowned Missouri
School of Journalism where she created the largest repository
of religion resources for journalists, including Religion Style-
book381 and ReligionLink382. For nearly 20 years, she served as
director of Religion News Association383, a secular organization
of professional journalists who cover religion in mass media. She
is publisher emeritus of Religion News Service384, the world’s
only secular news wire that exclusively covers faith, spirituality,
religion, and belief. Contact:

103 A Reporting Guide for Journalists


Paula Assubuji is the Human Rights Program manager of the

Heinrich Böll Foundation in Southern Africa385. As an economist
by training, she developed her expertise on socio-economic
issues through years of working in development in Southern
Africa and Europe. She has a track record of working with com-
munity-based and community-driven projects with a particular
focus on gender issues. Among a range of other organizations
in Mozambique and Germany, she has worked as the Director
of Operations for OneWorld Sustainable Development and led
the Secretariat of Slum Dwellers International in Cape Town.

104 A Reporting Guide for Journalists


About Taboom Media

Taboom’s media training, mentoring, publishing, monitoring, and response programs cata-
lyze ethical journalism and public discourse around taboo topics. By shining light on taboos
in the news, we aim to break their power. Our global work challenges stigmas, replacing
stereotypes and discrimination with accuracy and respect. We facilitate responsible media
coverage to safeguard and champion vulnerable communities and to advance human rights.

Taboom Media’s co-founders Brian Pellot and Debra Mason started collaborating to improve
ethical media coverage of taboo human rights topics in 2010 at the University of Missouri’s top-
ranked School of Journalism. Over the years, our customized training opportunities for media
professionals, faith leaders, and activists have ranged from short lectures and panels in the U.K.,
Canada, Kosovo, Turkey, France, Spain, Indonesia, Belgium, Austria, Ghana, Madagascar, and
Azerbaijan to week-long workshops in the U.S., Italy, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Malawi, South Africa,
and Myanmar. We have trained, mentored, and edited hundreds of journalists from dozens of
countries, elevating human rights topics in local and international media around the world.

To learn more about our work or to download a copy of this guide, visit TaboomMedia.com386.


Taboom’s Media Monitoring and Response Coalition (taboommrc.com387) mobilizes jour-

nalists, activists, faith leaders, lawyers, policymakers, and other community stakeholders to
rapidly and collaboratively track and combat dangerous and otherwise problematic media
portrayals of taboo human rights topics in a unified and systematic manner.

Our inaugural SSOGIE (Sex, Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, and Gender Expression)
MMRC focuses on LGBTQI+ rights in Sub-Saharan Africa, with the potential to scale up to
other regions pending adequate resources.

We establish strategic partnerships with Sub-Saharan stakeholders to regularly moni-

tor, rate, translate, and share local media coverage of SSOGIE-related content with the
broader coalition network via this shared platform and centralized database.

Trained media monitors collect and rate media coverage using a 5-point scale. The scale is used
immediately to triage coalition responses. Long-term, the scale helps monitor country- and
region-specific improvements and deteriorations in SSOGIE-related media coverage over time.

Anyone can submit media clips via the public portal388. If you would like to join us more
formally as a media monitoring partner, please get in touch389

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This guide and other resources are available for free at
Published by Taboom Media under a Creative Commons
Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 license.
CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 2020

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