Leveson Report: Press has failed to respect the dignity of trans people

PinkNews logo on a pink background surrounded by illustrated line drawings of a rainbow, pride flag, unicorn and more.

Trans Media Watch (TMW), the charity that works to improve media coverage of transgender and intersex issues and had previously submitted testimony to his inquiry, has welcomed the publication of Lord Justice Leveson’s report into media standards.

It illustrates how parts of the press have failed to respect the privacy of transgender people.

In a statement, TMW Chair Jennie Kermode said:

“We are particularly pleased by the recommendation that current editors should not sit on the board, removing the conflict of interest at the heart of the current system.”

In the first of its two written submissions to the inquiry, TMW called for a press ombudsman to be established in order to ensure that ordinary members of the public can access justice.

The organisation said it therefore “welcomes Lord Justice Leveson’s recommendation for a formally recognised, free arbitration system.”

In February, Simon Hughes, deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats, told the Leveson Inquiry that phone records obtained by the Sun newspaper forced him to come out as bisexual.

In his report, Lord Justice Leveson referred to TMW’s submissions as evidence of “disturbing and intrusive reporting,” going on to say that “it is clear that there is a marked tendency in a section of the press to fail to treat members of the transgender and intersex communities with sufficient dignity and respect… parts of the tabloid press continue to seek to ‘out’ transgender people notwithstanding its prohibition in the Editors’ Code.”

Lord Justice Leveson’s recommendation that a new regulatory body should consider the protection of minority groups as a matter of priority has also been welcomed by TMW.

“The abuses of press freedom considered by the inquiry have damaged the reputation of journalism as well as the lives of individuals,” said Ms Kermode. “It is time to rebuild trust and improve standards for everyone’s sake. Nobody should have to live in fear of being outed by the press and ridiculed over private medical matters.”

The report also said that anyone should be able to make a complaint under the new regulatory system of an alleged breach of the Code of Practice, including “a representative group affected by the alleged breach”.

This would allow campaign groups like Stonewall and TMW the chance to make complaints about LGBT coverage.

Deborah Jack, chief executive of the National AIDS Trust, said in response:

“There is still too much poor and prejudicial reporting of HIV and we have on a number of occasions been frustrated at our inability under the current PCC Code to lodge a complaint.

“The recommendation from Lord Leveson will be an important driver to improve non-discriminatory press reporting and we call for its implementation as soon as possible.”

The chairman of the Press Complaints Commission, Lord Hunt, said the press had to seize the baton and make sure it “doesn’t let Lord Justice Leveson down”.