Citizenship | PSHE

Rebel Wilson outing sparks media ethics row

Do we need new privacy laws? An Australian newspaper forced actress Rebel Wilson to reveal that she has a girlfriend. Many believe this is an appalling violation of her rights. Australia’s gay community was thrilled. One of the country’s biggest stars, Rebel WilsonShe has starred in films including Bridesmaids and Senior Year., had come out, saying on Instagram that she had “found her Disney Princess”: fashion designer Ramona AgrumaThe founder of a sustainable fashion company called Lemon Ve Limon.. The post soon had 1.6 million likes. It seemed a brave thing to do in a conservative country. Last year footballer Josh CavalloAn Australian professional footballer whose coming out last year made him the only openly gay professional footballer. received death threats after coming out. And for an actress, the news could be damaging to her box-office appealA request for help. . But the delight lasted barely a day. On Saturday, Andrew Hornery of the Sydney Morning Herald revealed that he had been about to write about the love affair in his gossip column. So Wilson had not chosen to come out at all. She had jumped before she was pushed. This time people were furious. What appeared to be a feelgood story was now seen as an outrageous invasion of privacy. “Maybe I'm incredibly naïve,” tweeted the BBC’s Megha Mohan, “but this is what I imagined 90s gutter press was like and most journalists had huge standards change since then".  In the 1990s, not only newspapers but gay-rights campaignersThe practice was particularly associated with a British group called OutRage! outed people they felt should be more open about their sexuality. Today, though, it is considered completely unacceptable. The Guardian’s Eleanor Morgan wrote: “It is a flagrant act of arrogance to take away someone’s autonomyThe right to make your own decisions. to choose to come out where and when they are ready to.” "This is a story that should not have seen the light of day," agrees Dr Sacha Molitorisz, a lecturer on media ethics and privacy. He says Australia’s codes of conduct for journalism are often ignored. “I've worked with editors and journalists who are extremely sensitive and aware, and others who had about as much empathy as a cricket bat… It's not good enough for journalists to say simply that they're guided by their personal moral compass." Do we need new privacy laws?  Press stress Yes: The outing of Rebel Wilson is yet another example of the press turning someone’s life upside down for the sake of a headline. Such revelations should only be made if they are in the public interest.

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