Courier Mail claims headlines didn’t intend to diminish life of transgender murder victim

Courier Mail The Courier Mail has said it had “no intention of diminishing” the life of transgender murder victim Mayang Prasetyo after it received a huge backlash to its headlines and coverage of the killing in yesterday’s paper.

The Queensland tabloid covered the murder of Prasetyo by her chef boyfriend Marcus Volke with the front page splash “Monster chef and the she male” and inside headline “Ladyboy and the butcher”, sparking an online petition which has now garnered more than 21,000 signatures and complaints to the Australian Press Council.

Today the News Corp paper acknowledged the backlash in a statement at the bottom of another article, saying: “Many believe that yesterday we presented Mayang’s story in a way that was disrespectful to her memory. The Courier-Mail had no intention of diminishing the value of Mayang’s life, or to add to the grief being felt by her family.”

courier mail psycho gigolo apology headline paperToday the paper ran with the front page splash ‘Psycho gigolo’ claiming Volke was a globetrotting male prostitute before arriving in Australia.

The petition accuses the article of “trivialising” or attempting to “justify” Prasetyo’s murder.

“Rather than persecuting the offender in this case it appears that Courier Mail is attempting to justify or trivialise Mayang’s murder on the basis of her transgender status,” the petition says.

“The transgender community experience some of the highest levels of violence in any minority and the propagation, scandalisation and trivialisation of stories like this which diminish a horrific domestic violence crime to a focus on transsexualism (which for the record is no longer the appropriate terminology) does nothing but perpetuate this violent cycle”.

The Press Council’s general principles include instructions to “avoid causing or contributing materially to substantial offence, distress or prejudice, or a substantial risk to health or safety, unless doing so is sufficiently in the public interest.”

Earlier this year, the guidelines superceded the previous general principles which included an instruction that “Publications should not place any gratuitous emphasis on the race, religion, nationality, colour, country of origin, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, disability, illness, or age of an individual or group.”

The APC is the self-regulating body appointed to oversee reporting standards for Australia’s news mastheads. A spokesman for the APC said he could not comment on the case as it would now have to be assessed by the Council but confirmed it had received at least one complaint.

Nic Christensen 


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