PODGORICA, 12.02.2018. – When it comes to LGBTIQ+ population the media in Montenegro are evolving and mostly respect journalistic standards and the branch code. So the texts are in majority neutral and objective and they are written in terminology that is acceptable from the human rights point of view.This progress is unfortunately followed by citizens’hate speech allowed by untimely administrated comments on portals and complete lack of control of new communication platforms which the media are using in their competition for the wider public.
What is missing is that sincere interest in LGBTIQ+population problematic, more stories about LGBTIQ+ individuals and more media programs. All for the goal of completing the role of media given by the part of American authors Bill Kovach and Tim Rosenstill and that is „to give people information which is needed to be free and to participate in managing themselves.“
There are no exact data, at least not those available to the public by the Internet search, in case of how the media has progressed during the last few years in the reports about the human rights of one of the most marginalized groups in Montenegro.NGO “Juventas” hasanalyzed media content and reports about LGBTIQ+ population in 2010 and 2011 within the Report about human rightssituation of LGBT persons in Montenegro in 2011. It should be mentioned as well that in the last seven years the situation in the country has significantly changed when it comes to the media. The electronic media and social networks are used more as platforms for informing, but as well as the place where media consumers can be active participants.
In the NGO “Juventas” report is stated that „the representation of media publications with LGBT thematic has significantly grown in 2010, especially when it comes to publications which deal with a local context. Juventas is considering that the situation is direct consequence of Juventas’startup of one of the first projects oriented towards improving the position of LGBT persons in Montenegrin society,Montenegro-a bright spot on the gay map.“
Media interest in LGBT thematicstill continues and is evident. However it should be emphasized that it mainly concerns reports from events, press releases, analysis of publications presented by non-governmental organizations, reactions to events that attract public attention like-violence. It misses human stories, documentary programs,TV series, movies which should as well contribute to informing public about everydayproblems of LGBTIQ+ population and how they overcome them.Yet the media have been trying to cover the Pride,but contents, which are not only considering this big event for the community, are still lacking. The answers for the lack of media products regarding LGBTIQ+ population should be sought from media owners and editors.
Whether due to still low visibility of LGBTIQ+ persons or the obstacle of reaching the interlocutors,mostly only LGBT activists continue to appear in the media. In Montenegro there are few persons that are declared as members of LGBTIQ+ population. However that shouldn’t be an excuse for the lack of media content dealing with othermembers of sexual and gender minorities.
Juventas has noticed that the biggest difference in analyzedmedia results in 2010 and 2011 are in the numberof texts which are dealing with LGBT topics in the local and foreign context. The media are giving advantage to the local context and that is definitely a progress. Yet we shouldn’t forget that in time of mass media there are no limits. Therefore it should be written about global phenomenon and persons that are not from Montenegro, who are very influential especially if that is a case with role model for young people. The media should be – up to date- and they should adapt and offer content to LGBTIQ+ persons.
Still in majority media content promotesheteronormativity which can be easily noticed throughprogramanalysis such as TV series, movies, and documentaries, educational and similar programs. That’s why it should be worked on programs that are not only dedicated to the LGBTIQ+ population, but also include various topics which are considering gender and sexual minorities. One of the media functions is to maintain democratic values and to promote human rights with a goal that the majority allows minority’s voice to be heard.
It is noticeable that journalists are more and more understanding that the freedom of speech and hate speech are not the same. In their search for-the other side of the story- and the urge to be objective, Montenegrin media in the years have sought to have interlocutors that promote heterosexuality as the only right social norm, neglecting other sexual orientations.
Often media context were full of hate speech oriented towards groups and individuals who are not living by heteronormativity hidden under the cape of ‚‚the other side“. Now there is less of this journalistic excommunication, however advocates of hatred for sexual and gender minorities are increasingly occupying a virtual space on social networks for which the media are not responsible even though it’s on their pages, profiles and similar. So the space of the social network is in the domains of the Law on public order and peace, so instead of the media there are individuals and non-governmentalorganizations as well as institutions that are responding and reporting hate speech. The media has downsized their responsibility on written, printed, what has been said, administrating comments and etc. That’s why it is possible to find hate speech in the comments that unequivocally discriminate LGBT+ population even though the media context is correct and objective.
“When it comes to actors of media reports they are mainly written about LGBT persons (70%), rarelylike actors appear LGBT organizations (22%) and LGBT individuals (8%)” – this was one of the NGO “Juventas” observations a few years ago. The situation has changed because at that moment in Montenegro there was only one LGBT organization with one representative. Today in the country there are a few organizations dealing with this topic, so there are a few public ‚‚out of the closet“ persons. However media contents are still reduced to news, reports and interviews. The journalistic form should be more diverse when it comes to LGBTIQ+ population not just society, economy, politics and similar. The things that are missing are reports, columns, articles… these forms will show the public that is not just about some marginalized groups, and it is about people who are our neighbors, friends and family.
The media in Montenegro follow and respect the journalistic code. They have mastered the terminology which should be used when they ‚‚step on the LGBTIQ+ territory“. Still media representatives should master the skills of sincere interest for this thematic. To search for life stories, but also forms and ways of presentation of everyday life circumstances of gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transgender, transsexuals, intersex, queer and other gender and sexual minorities. And the hate speech of the heterosexual majority in the comments and on the social networks should not allowed overpowering the voice of minorities that have been heard through the neutral media content.
This article has been produced as a part of the project Western Balkan’s Regional Platform for advocating media freedom and journalists’ safety with the financial assistance of the European Union. The contents of this article are the sole responsibility of the Independent Journalists’ Association of Serbia and its authors, and can in no circumstances be regarded as reflecting the position of the European Union.