Press Council confirms complaint against Courier Mail over ‘She Male’ front page

Screen Shot 2014-10-07 at 5.06.26 pmThe Australian Press Council has received at least one complaint over today’s front page from Queensland tabloid The Courier Mail which featured the headlines “Monster chef and the she male” and “Ladyboy and the butcher”.

The News Corp paper has drawn fierce criticism online over the headlines and tone of its articles on the murder in Brisbane by chef Marcus Volke of his transgender girlfriend Mayang Prasetyo. Volke was reportedly caught boiling parts of her body and, when confronted by police, took his own life.

An online petition had garnered 8,500 signatures by 5pm today and rose to 12,500 by 7.30pm after being created by members of the Brisbane trans community. It calls on the newspaper to issue a public apology.

change petition courier mail

The petition

A News Corp Australia spokesman this afternoon declined to comment on the article .

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Earlier this year, the guidelines superceded the previous general principles which included an instruction that “Publications should not place any gratuitous emphasis on the race, religion, nationality,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.

After the APC receives a complaint it must first assess whether it relates to something covered by its general pricniples before deciding whether to precede to a full investigation.

The petition criticises the article for “trivialising” or attempting to “justify” Prasteo’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”.

At the time of publication Courier Mail editor Chris Dore had not responded to requests for comment.

7.25pm update: This article has been amended to reflect that the new General Principles of the Press Council superseded those referring directly to “gratuitous emphasis” earlier this year. We have also corrected the spelling of the victim’s name.

Nic Christensen


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