CHRISTINE LAWS AGAINST THE NZ HERALD
Case Number: 3416
Council Meeting: 7 AUGUST 2023
Decision: No Grounds to Proceed
Publication: New Zealand Herald
Accuracy, Fairness and Balance
Comment and Fact
Discrimination and Diversity
The NZ Herald published an article on March 25, 2023, headlined Shaneel Lal: Why I’m organising a counterprotest against Kelley-Jay Keen-Minshull/Posie Parker in Auckland.
Christine Laws complained that Shaneel Lal incorrectly claimed that the Tauranga Rainbow Youth Club arson was a hate crime as a judge presiding over the trial of two men charged with arson had stated it was not a hate crime.
She said the article had used “this false claim to whip up hatred against a group of (biological women) who were planning a small legal meeting.” The event she was referring to was the aborted rally in central Auckland on March 25 where Ms Keen-Minshull, an anti-transgender rights activist, had been planning to speak.
Shaneel Lal said in the article “We must look at this event in the context of the rise of violence against queer people in Aotearoa” and referred to the arson attack a year earlier in which the Rainbow Youth Club’s building was burnt down.
The NZ Herald said the article was an opinion piece and clearly identified as such. Shaneel Lal had explained in an earlier column why they disagreed with the judge’s ruling that it wasn’t a hate crime and had detailed that the attack targeted queer people – with one of the two charged with arson reportedly telling the police the fire “will teach them for being gay.”
The Media Council notes that Shaneel Lal did not describe the arson as a hate crime. They referred to the arson as one of five incidents that were evidence of a rise of violence against queer people. That was their opinion, and one they were entitled to express.
Christine Laws also complained of a “general bias” in the NZ Herald in relation to Ms Keen-Minshull's visit.
The NZ Herald rejected the claim that its coverage was unbalanced, incited violence and that it published untruths. The Herald had sought the views of the other side and interviewed Ms Keen-Minshull.
The Media Council has previously ruled on a more detailed complaint of bias on this issue (Case 3402: Natasha Hamilton-Hart against the NZ Herald) which referred to some 50 articles relating to Ms Keen-Minshull. That complaint was not upheld.
Ms Laws has not provided information that would justify a reconsideration of the issue.
Decision: There were insufficient grounds to proceed.