Warning: offensive language
The Press Council has ruled a Daily Telegraph article describing convicted axe attacker Evie Amati with offensive transgender slurs breached its standards.
In 2017, Amati, a transgender woman, attacked and injured two patrons with an axe inside a 7-Eleven in inner-west Sydney and then chased down a nearby pedestrian.
Last August, a jury found her guilty of attempted murder after the horrifying attack. Amati’s minimum jail term was almost doubled to eight years on appeal two months ago.
The Daily Telegraph article, by columnist Tim Blair, was headlined “Allegedly Axey Evie” and was published on January 11 last year.
Blair’s article said, “Having been chopped herself, Sydney tranny Evie Amati allegedly sought to share the experience.
“The previous he apparently doesn’t like people who buy pies or milk.”
The article went on to describe Amati as “a transgender union employee who used to be known as Karl” who had “transitioned to female four years ago.”
The Press Council received a number of complaints “that the article referred and gave prominence to Ms Amati’s transgender status and referred to Ms Amati in distressing and prejudicial terms”.
The Telegraph responded by saying the article “simply state[s] publicly known facts about the accused in the writer’s particular style of writing.”
“His style of opinion writing is well recognised [and] he targets a very specific audience who understand and appreciate his tone and approach,” the paper told the Press Council.
“[As] the style used in the opinion blog is reflective of his style, his readership would have recognised it as such.”
The publication said to not report on Ms Amati’s transgender status “would be to deny readers access to known relevant issues on the public record that had played an important role in influencing the accused’s life.”
Daily Telegraph transgender comments led to ‘substantial offence’
In its ruling, the Press Council said Amati’s crime “was one of serious violence which the community struggled to understand.”
“In commenting on it, columnists are free to express their opinions in strong terms and to use satire,” the Council said.
“However, publications are required to comply with the Council’s Standards of Practice.”
The Press Council went on to say the columnist’s summarising of facts in the article was “reasonably accurate”.
But the Council said it had breached the rules with its use of “offensive comments”.
“The reference to the accused ‘having been chopped herself’ referred to gender reassignment surgery and transgender people in an offensive way.
“The reference to Ms Amati as a ‘Sydney tranny’ was also offensive. The suggestion that Ms Amati ‘sought to share the experience’ of being ‘chopped’ linked being transgender with Ms Amati’s violent act.
“The Council considers that the cumulative effect of these comments led to substantial offence.
“Accordingly, the Council concludes that the publication failed to take reasonable steps to avoid substantial offence, distress or prejudice.”
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