Belgian CSA publishes study on representation of homosexuality in the audiovisual media

posted on 17 May, 2013   (public)

On the occasion of the International Day against Homophobia, the CSA of the French speaking Community of Belgium has published the outcome of its first assessment of stereotypes related to the sexual orientation in radio and TV broadcast content. The CSA has been monitoring more than 250 sequences of programmes popular among young people - age group 12 to 30 -  which were broadcast in January 2013 in the Federation Wallonia-Brussels. The sequences encompassed local and foreign broadcasts across all genres.

This study is a complement to the Barometer of diversity and equality launched in 2010 by the CSA to assess the perception of diversity on TV in the Federation Wallonia-Brussels. Associations of gays and lesbians had asked to include sexual orientation as a criterion in the barometer, but the quantitative method was not deemed appropriate. The CSA was thus commissioned by the Minister to conduct a specific qualitative research on the representation of homosexuality in the audiovisual media.

The final results of the study show that:

• The relationships shown on radio and TV including at least one homosexual person are relatively diverse: some of them stereotypical and reductive, others closer to the complexity of real life.

• Homosexuality is mainly mentioned in foreign programmes or in news referring to current affairs abroad (e.g. the debate on gay marriage in France).

• Fiction films from the 80s and 90s shows a very stereotypical image of homosexuality, unlike American and French contemporary series in which homosexual persons are generally accepted.

• Gays and lesbians mainly appear to discuss specific issues related to their difference: it is because homosexuals are different that we speak about them.

• Phone-in radio programmes, very popular among young teenagers, are full of extremely stereotyped expressions, sometimes even hateful or homophobic.
• In fiction and non fiction content, homosexuals are almost always presented as a minority isolated from society.

La représentation de l’homosexualité dans les médias de la Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles (Sabri Derinoz, mai 2013) (French only)

Website of the CSA of the French speaking Community of Belgium