Australian journalist pushes back against anti-LGBTQ+ trolls

Patricia Karvelas

Patricia Karvelas. Screenshot from YouTube video posted by ABC

Prominent TV and radio news anchor Patricia Karvelas was targeted by homophobic trolls after sharing her experience as a queer Australian journalist who had to guard her sexual identity for many years. Media groups expressed solidarity with Karvelas as they condemned the online abuse against the journalist.

Australia’s national broadcaster ABC interviewed several journalists, including Karvelas, who narrated the challenges they faced as LGBTQ+ individuals working in the media industry. After this, Karvelas was viciously trolled on social media. She wrote on X (Twitter):

Trolls target me for hours with vile stuff.

The stuff I’ve read is truly shocking I didn’t even share the worst. Sexualised homophobia it made me sick

My family is really proud of me thanks.

The last line refers to the nasty comments she received alleging that her Greek family is embarrassed about her sexual identity.

ABC news director Justin Stevens defended Karvelas and criticized media outlets that amplified the comments against the journalist.

It is disturbing, saddening and angering that Patricia should find herself the target of online trolling and abuse, much of it sexualised, homophobic and racist, just for speaking publicly about her life.

Media outlets should be combatting dangerous online abuse and gender-based and sexual bullying, and standing in solidarity with peers experiencing it, not disingenuously serving to amplify it.

The Coalition For Women In Journalism urged authorities to investigate the attacks against Karvelas as it highlighted how online harassment can gravely affect the personal and professional lives of journalists.

We strongly condemn the mistreatment she has faced and urge authorities to thoroughly investigate these acts of aggression and ensure those responsible are held accountable.

The attacks against Karvelas serve as a reminder of the importance of standing up against online harassment and fostering an inclusive and respectful environment for journalists.

This abuse can have severe professional and personal consequences, leading to self-censorship, avoidance of certain topics, or even departure from the industry, adding to the existing gender disparity.

Karvelas discussed how she hid her sexuality from politicians and even some colleagues who seemed hostile to LGBTQ+ rights in her ABC interview. She said:

I was very careful among my colleagues who I perceived not to be supportive, [and] among politicians who I knew were hostile to gay rights, which were many.

Looking back, she shared her feelings about it.

I think back on those years with a great sense of sadness, that I wasn't able to be my full self at work.

I'm not dead yet so I can be myself now. But I don't think it should have been the case that I didn't get that experience in my youth.

She explained why she didn’t come forward to call out the LGBTQ+ discrimination in her workplace:

People would be surprised by that, because I think I'm well known in the public, and to anyone reading this piece who knows me, as being someone who does stand up and isn't really afraid of people.

But that's not what happens when you're in a social environment where people think gay jokes are funny. You just find it very hard to say anything without, you know, making yourself vulnerable, but also just being considered difficult all the time.

Finally, she acknowledges her role as a public figure and also her right to affirm her “authentic self”:

I don't want people to feel like I'm not their broadcaster. But equally if I'm not my authentic self, I can't do my job well.

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