A number of news reports, published by The Independent on Saturday, about alleged male victims of date rape drugs in South Africa, have been described as “potentially problematic.”
Under the headline of “Waking up in bed with two gay men”, one article published this weekend described how a 24-year-old Durban North man, after a night of partying, woke up “in bed with two gay men”, and found his car tyres slashed.
The man claims that he was given ‘spiked’ drinks at a pub, after which he apparently failed to remember anything other than waking up the following morning.
“The next thing I remember was being naked in bed with both of them lying naked on either side of me at about 4am on Monday. There was a porn movie playing and we were in the master bedroom of the Cowies Hill home,” the man told the newspaper.
He further said that he made a quick getaway despite “extreme abdominal pains”.
The previous Saturday, another article titled “Drug rapists target men”, published by the same newspaper and written by the same journalist, Fiona Gounden, described “a sinister new development”, in which “a growing number of men are having their drinks spiked in nightclubs across South Africa.”
Tracey Sandilands, from Gays for Equitable Media (GEM), warned journalists to be sensitive to the potential of creating an atmosphere of “gay panic” through these, at times, emotive reports which, she said, could become “potentially problematic”.
“While these troubling and shocking events must, of course, be reported and investigated, we are concerned that the media might create the impression that all gay men are aggressive predators of heterosexual men, which is, of course, untrue,” said Sandilands.
“Like every other community, there are a small number of people with criminal intentions, but this should never be used to stereotype the entire community, or create a sense of fear about that community,” she added.
GEM has called on journalists and media publishers to avoid sensationalising their reporting on the matter.
“Lesbians and gays are a minority, often under threat. The media must have a sense of responsibility about how their reports influence public perceptions of our community,” said Sandilands.