Daily Telegraph’s infographic targeting homosexual teens was a ‘risk to public health and safety’

The Daily Telegraph has been reprimanded by the Press Council for its controversial infographic which appeared to draw parallels between ill health and sexual orientation. The article, ‘Fat chance of being healthy’ also seemingly implied sexuality was a choice, with the subheading ‘Young Aussies only have themselves to blame’.

The infographic was widely criticised in July when it went to print and in its ruling, the Press Council said the article “caused substantial offence, distress, prejudice and risk to public health and safety, and there was no public interest in justifying this”.

The infographic has side-by-side statistics about unhealthy young Australians including “37.5% of 16- to 24-year-olds consume alcohol at levels posing a lifetime risk to health” and “16.8% of secondary school students in Australia are attracted to people of the same sex as them or both sexes”.

A complaint made by The Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy Association of Australasia said the headline of the article accompanied with the statistic relating to sexual orientation “is unhealthy and warrants blame”.

“Any notion that sexual identity, in whatever form it takes, is either a choice or a medical problem is false, and coverage like this contributes to health concerns such as increased suicide risk for young same-sex attracted people,” the complaint added.

The complaint also said the association between ill-health and sexual orientation was inaccurate, unfair and significantly harmful.

Responding to the complaints, The Daily Telegraph said the infographic was not created by the same person who created the headline and it was inserted “just before deadline”.

The Daily Telegraph admitted it would not use the same headline and infographic if it had to publish the article again.

“The graphic was designed to mirror the statistics in the article and not to single out sexuality as an aspect of ill health,” the publication said.

After suffering backlash on social media, The Daily Telegraph’s editor, Christopher Dore posted a statement on social media which said the presentation of the story had been misinterpreted.

The Australian Press Council agreed with the complaint saying the headline and the graphic together associated students who are attracted to the same sex with unhealthy lifestyle factors. The watchdog upheld the complaint, concluding the article was misleading and the material was not accurate.

The APC also found the article did not take “adequate remedial action or an opportunity for a response to be published”.

Dore’s public note was not counted as “remedial action” as the statement wasn’t published in print and did not apologise for the misleading nature of the infographic.

Breaching yet another rule, the article was also found guilty of causing “substantial offence, distress, prejudice and risk to public health and safety”.

Altogether the article breached three different Press Council principals.


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