During April 2006 Triangle Project initiated a mini survey on the gay, lesbian and bisexual expert’s forum on the website We asked visitors to the forum to complete a mini survey that was designed to reflect respondents’ perceptions of the way gay and lesbian people are portrayed in the mass media.

This followed a controversial article and clearly homo-prejudiced article published in You magazine during April, which elicited a reprimand from the Press Ombudsman of South Africa after a formal complaint against that magazine.

The survey was conducted over a three-week period during April and May 2006 and elicited 79 responses.


36.8% of respondents were aged 18-25;

35.4% were aged 25-35;

19.0% were aged 35-45;

6.3% were aged 45-55, and

2.5% were aged 55+.

72.2% or respondents were aged below 35


31.6% of respondents reported being gay;

26.5% reported being lesbian;

21.5% reported being bisexual;

5.1% reported being straight;

5.1% reported being ‘curious’;

3.8% reported being ‘unsure’, and

1.3% reported being transgender.

Note that 5.1% of respondents chose not to answer this question. It is not possible to conclude respondents’ gender from this data other than that at least 26.5% of respondents were female. A relatively high number of respondents reported being bisexual (21.5%).


Responses were received from throughout South Africa, with the two largest clusters being from Johannesburg and Cape Town (respectively). One respondent reported being from Finland.


The mini survey contained six questions, five of which offered respondents a choice of three responses. The final question asked respondents to name a newspaper, magazine, television station or radio station that they consider to be particularly prejudiced against the gay, lesbian and bisexual community.

QUESTION 1: In general, do you think the mass media represent gay, lesbian and bisexual people objectively?

7.6% answered ‘Yes’; 74.7% answered ‘No’; 17.7% answered ‘Unsure’.

QUESTION 2: In general, do you think the mass media contributes to prejudice against us?

72.2% answered ‘Yes’; 11.4% answered ‘No’; 16.4% answered ‘Unsure’.

QUESTION 3: Have you felt offended or disturbed by any item in the mass media of the grounds of it being prejudiced against us, during the past year?

73.4% answered ‘Yes’; 19.0% answered ‘No’; 7.6% answered ‘Unsure’.

QUESTION 4: Have you ever written a letter to the press, to a magazine or a television or radio station to comment on an article or item you thought was prejudiced against us?

15.2% answered ‘Yes’; 79.7% answered ‘No’; 5.1% answered ‘Unsure’.

QUESTION 5: Do you believe the media has a potential role to play in helping to challenge society’s prejudice against us?

84.8% answered ‘Yes’; 1.2% answered ‘No’; 14.0% answered ‘Unsure’.

QUESTION 6: Name the ONE newspaper, magazine, television station or radio station that you think is particularly prejudiced against us.

27.8% of respondents listed either You, Huisgenoot (the Afrikaans equivalent of You magazine) or both;

16.4% listed SABC TV (with 1 respondent mentioning a specific programme, Generations, on SABC 1);

8.9% listed Die Son (The Sun);

2.5% listed Die Burger;

2.5% listed Rapport;

2.5% listed the Sunday Times.

In addition, the following were each listed by 1.3% of respondents:

5FM; Beeld; the Bible; Cape Argus; Daily Voice; e-tv; The Star; Zola.

It is noteworthy that one respondent chose to mention one publication as not being homoprejudiced – the Weekly Mail & Guardian.


The data indicate that the majority of respondents (74.7%) agree that gay, lesbian and bisexual people are not objectively represented in the mass media, thereby contributing to ongoing homoprejudice.

While the majority of respondents (73.4%) had felt offended by a media item during the preceding year on the grounds of perceived homoprejudice, very few respondents (15.2%) had written a letter of complaint.

Respondents were clearly (84.8%) of the opinion that the mass media has a potential role to play in challenging social prejudice against gay, lesbian and bisexual people.

It must be noted that You magazine being named most frequently (27.8%) by respondents as being particularly homoprejudiced needs to be seen in the light of heated discussion on the forum during the preceding week related to a particular article published in You magazine.

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