Complaint Filed Against TV9 For Telecasting False Information About Homosexuality

On March 3, 3:30 PM, TV9 Marathi telecasted a show about called Arogyam Dhanasampada – Sexual Problems and Solutions with guest speaker, Sanjay Shetye, a clinical psychologist.

During the show, the anchor asked Sanjay Shetye the solution to the ‘rising number of homosexual persons.’ To this, Shetye responded saying that homosexuality is indeed a disease and there has been an increase in the number of ‘homosexual people.’

He went on further to mention that some teenage boys stand like girls, talk differently, sound different and this behaviour must not be encouraged. He suggested that such persons should be immediately taken to the doctor and cured. He claims to have cured several ‘homosexual’ persons.

The Indian Psychiatric Society and the World Health Organization have clarified repeatedly that homosexuality is not an illness and therefore there is no cure. Any attempts to cure a member of the LGBTQ community will only cause them severe mental and physical fatigue and therefore must not be attempted.

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Posted by Youth Ki Awaaz on Sunday, September 30, 2018

On September 6, 2018, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously in Navtej Singh Johar v. Union of India case that Section 377 was unconstitutional and thereby by reading it down, decriminalised consensual sexual acts between adults of the same sex.

Since then, the Indian society has begun to move towards a future which is more inclusive and accepting of homosexual persons. This is allowing more and more LGBTQ individuals to be open about their sexuality publicly.

TV9 Marathi, through their show, has spread false information about homosexuality and allowed Shetye and the anchor to make derogatory statements against the LGBTQ community by calling them diseased. This violates the guidelines of News Broadcasting Standards Authority related to Broadcast of Potentially Defamatory Content.

These guidelines state, “Broadcasters must be conscious of the power and impact of the audio-visual medium and the phenomenal reach of their news channels, which can cause incalculable harm if not accurate and objective. Additionally, it mentions that a news anchor/journalist/presenter should not make any derogatory, derisive or judgemental statements as part of reporting or commentating. Before broadcasting any such news/programmes, the channel must take necessary steps to ascertain its veracity and credibility. The channels must ensure that their programmes do not become a platform for spreading acrimony.”

I have filed a complaint against TV9 Marathi with the Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF) on March 5, 2020 citing the above guidelines. I tried filing a complaint directly with TV9, however, the ‘submit button’ on the Complaints Form on their website leads to an error.

I had a chance to speak directly with an employee of TV9 Marathi and they have assured to take up the matter with their boss. Meanwhile, the recording of the episode continues to be available on YouTube. Based on TV9 and IBF’s response further action would be taken.

TV9 should apologise to its viewers and to the LGBTQ community for spreading derogatory information about the community. To make up for this mistake, it would be helpful if TV9 invites a credible medical professional to their show to spread accurate information about sexuality, biological sex, gender identity and gender expression.

The TV9 Group has been notorious for repeatedly spreading derogatory and false information about the LGBTQ community. In 2011, the News Broadcasting Standards Authority (NBSA) slapped a ₹1 lakh fine on the news channel for airing an extremely incendiary and invasive programme titled ‘Gay Culture Rampant In Hyderabad.’

They repeated a similar homophobic programme in 2017. Hyderabad’s queer community has tried to have a dialogue with the TV9 group and has conducted silent protests outside their office, too, against such programmes. I hope that with this complaint, TV9 realises the need to change their stance on homosexuality and moves forward with the world.

About the author: My name is Jeet and I am an Equal Rights advocate from India. I run an LGBTQIA+ support and awareness group called Yes, We Exist. I have been instrumental in making the restaurant industry in India more inclusive with the support of Zomato India and Youth Ki Awaaz; you can find more information here about the campaign. 

Featured image for representative purpose only.
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