Concerns as digital radio station publish posts from LGBTI+ group

Perth’s new LGBTQIA+ digital radio station DRN1 United has drawn criticism online after publishing information from a private Facebook group for the local LGBTQIA+ community.

Admins and members of Facebook group Perth LGBTI+ Community have raised concerns over the digital station’s actions, after DRN1 United published comments from Perth LGBTI+ Community to the DRN1 United page along with the full name of each author, in response to an article from PinkNews on religious convictions, LGBTQIA+ kids and foster care.

Speaking to OUTinPerth, Perth LGBTI+ Community admins outlined their concerns over the safety of the local LGBTQIA+ community, who may have been outed as people of diverse sexuality or gender after having their information published on a public page.

Russell Harrower, CEO of Radio Media Pty Ltd – which operates DRN1 United – published a statement on the matter to the DRN1 United Facebook page under the title “Facebook Group Perth LGBTI+ Community kicks member off for doing his job – reporting the news,” disputing his removal from the group in line with the rules of the page.

Rule 3 of Perth LGBTI+ Community states; “Being part of this group requires mutual trust. Authentic, expressive discussions make groups great, but may also be sensitive and private. What’s shared in the group should stay in the group.”

“However at no time do we believe that we broke this rule,” DRN1 United’s statement reads.

“As a news media company it is our job to report the news when it comes to LGBTIQA+ issues. If users choose to comment on platforms like Twitter or Facebook users give up their right for privacy. To protect commenters of the group above yesterday we did not post the groups name nor did we link to the commenters Facebook profiles.”

“We do not agree that it could of potentially outed someone as nothing said “I am gay, lesbian etc etc”. The comments where commenting on a news story about the safety of kids in fostercare and how their safety and wellbeing should come first.”

“As for the comment that “it’s highly unethical” media companies take quotes from social networking sites everyday take a look at any channel 7 or channel 9 news article.”

“How can we as a media company improve? While I agree that the safety of our community should come first we also believe that Facebook groups like Perth LGBTI+ community should not be banning or kicking members out of the group when rules have not been broken. If users share or comment on a post that comment is now public you are on a “SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORM” keyword SOCIAL.”

“As a media owner it is my job to report the news of the community. When comments from community members are one of support, uneasiness or even anger it is our job to report that.”

“We are sorry if any commenter did not like being quoted.”

Perth LGBTI+ Community members also noted that the person identified in DRN1 United’s statement was misgendered in the original text prior to edits.

Speaking to OUTinPerth, Harrower apologised for not using the correct pronouns, saying accusations of transphobia were “distasteful” and that he hopes to be educated by the community on how to improve.

“As for outing people no comment in the post by a user was saying that they are LGBTIQA+ – they could be an ally of our community,” Harrower said.

“To the transgender community: I have always had respect for the transgender community and all parts of our community. DRN1 United is a station where educating us all including me is needed. I urge that TransFolk WA and other transgender community groups and people reach out and do a radio show with the full focus on understanding the transgender community.”

“To the LGBTIQA+ community: I have always supported and been a part of this community. I was the gay foster child I am lucky to be in the position I am in today to help promote a safe space for all. Clearly I have some learning to do and I look forward to learning,”

Harrower’s partner at Radio Media Pty Ltd Jason Carroll also told OUTinPerth that Harrower’s actions were a “misjudgment”, and reaffirmed their commitment to serving Perth’s LGBTQIA+ communities.

The Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance (MEAA), the largest union and industry advocate for journalists and broadcasters, has an established Code of Ethics, setting the standard for Australian reporters.

MEAA’s code outlines that journalists should “use fair, responsible and honest means to obtain material. Identify yourself and your employer before obtaining any interview for publication or broadcast. Never exploit a person’s vulnerability or ignorance of media practice” and “respect private grief and personal privacy. Journalists have the right to resist compulsion to intrude.”

Leigh Andrew Hill

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