ABC stepped up to defend Patricia Karvelas after trolls viciously targeted the award-winning out gay journalist with homophobic abuse.
Karvelas, who has faced online abuse earlier as well, once again became the target of homophobic trolls after she shared her personal story with ABC Queer last month.
Karvelas told ABC Queer that she had to keep her sexuality a secret at the start of her career, especially from anti-LGBTQI politicians. Karvelas said that she was “paranoid” about being outed and did not want to lose out on opportunities because of her sexuality.
After tabloid publication Daily Mail reported the story, Karvelas started getting abusive and menacing messages online.
Karvelas wrote on X (formerly Twitter): “Daily Mail writes story. Trolls target me for hours with vile stuff. My family is really proud of me, thanks. The stuff I’ve read is truly shocking. I didn’t even share the worst. Sexualised homophobia… it made me sick.”
That did not stop the trolling. On Friday, the national broadcaster issued a statement in support of Karvelas.
ABC Director, News Justin Stevens, said it was “disturbing, saddening and angering that Patricia should find herself the target of online trolling and abuse, much of it sexualised, homophobic and racist, just for speaking publicly about her life.”
Stevens also called out the tabloid for its reportage. “For a major national media outlet to compound that abuse by publicising it and publishing personal photos to illustrate it is irresponsible and unjustified.”
“ABC journalist and presenter Patricia Karvelas is a fine, principled journalist and a courageous and generous human being. We’re proud she works for the ABC and grateful for her hard work and huge contribution to the national public broadcaster and audiences,” said Stevens.
The ABC pointed to the eSafety Commissioner‘s statement that “journalists are more likely to experience online abuse who are female, from diverse racial or social backgrounds, are younger, have a disability, or identify as LGBTIQ+. It can have devastating professional and personal impacts. It can lead to the silencing of journalists, with some self-censoring, retreating from covering certain topics or leaving the industry.”
‘Press Gallery Was A Boy’s Club’
Stevens reminded media outlets about responsible journalism. “Media outlets should be combating dangerous online abuse and gender-based and sexual bullying, and standing in solidarity with peers experiencing it, not disingenuously serving to amplify it,” added Stevens.
Karvelas, who started her career with Sky News, before joining the national broadcaster, told ABC Queer that the Press Gallery was a “boys club”. She said she kept her sexuality hidden from colleagues and homophobic politicians. One of the few politicians she was out to was Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, who was ‘pretty pro-gay’.
Karvelas, who is now out and hosts RN Breakfast and Q&A for the ABC, said there are still challenges at work. “I don’t want people to feel like I’m not their broadcaster. But equally if I’m not my authentic self, I can’t do my job well,” Karvelas told ABC Queer.