Broadcaster Magazine

Stereotypical Comments about Homosexuality Breach Codes

The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council today released its decision concerning a guest’s comments during The City with Mayor Rob Ford broadcast on CFRB NewsTalk 1010 (Toronto). The CBSC concluded that comments made about homosexuality in reference to a specific individual violated the Canadian Association of Broadcasters’  Code of Ethics and Equitable Portrayal Code.

The City with Mayor Rob Ford is a talk radio program hosted by Mayor Rob Ford and his brother Doug, also a City Councillor. The Ford Brothers talk about Toronto politics and current events with guests and callers. On May 6, 2012 they had journalist David Menzies as their guest. They talked about media coverage of specific incidents involving Mayor Ford and the criticisms Ford had received. Menzies mentioned an all-candidates meeting that had occurred during the 2010 mayoral campaign at which someone had suggested that Mayor Ford could suffer from a heart attack in office because he is overweight. Menzies expressed the view that this comment was unfair to Ford and made the analogy that it would be like asking the openly gay candidate if he would likely die in office because he engages in high risk sexual practices and drug abuse. Menzies also made critical comments about other public figures.

The CBSC received complaints about the broadcast from listeners who were concerned that Menzies’ comments negatively stereotyped and stigmatized an individual on the basis of his sexual orientation. The CBSC’s Ontario Regional Panel agreed and found violations of the Human Rights Clauses of the CAB Code of Ethics and Equitable Portrayal Code as well as clauses of the Equitable Portrayal Code regarding negative portrayal, stereotyping and stigmatization. It also found a breach of the Proper Presentation clause of the Code of Ethics because the comments were unfairly insulting towards a specific individual, but it did not find any problems with the criticisms of other public figures.