Authors: Michele P. Bratina, Ph.D., Michael E. Antonio, Ph.D., Jacqueline A. Carsello, M.S., West Chester University of Pennsylvania, USA.

Abstract

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Over the course of the past century, many minority groups have been stigmatised and persecuted—in particular, people with mental illness (PwMI) and members of the LGBTQIA+ community.  Legislative measures have been implemented globally—measures that resulted in severe and abusive consequences for individuals perceived as ‘less desirable’ by members of the mainstream society.  For example, the Sterilisation Law (1934) had a goal of preventing Germans with mental illnesses from reproducing with others to prevent the spread of genetic defects, affecting hundreds of thousands of PwMI.  Members of the LGBTQIA+ community also suffered, being labelled as deviant under the law and many being sent to concentration camps.  While sterilisation is no longer a significant part of mainstream debate, the stigma and discrimination still faced by individuals from these groups can be worse than the inner conflict regarding sexuality and/or the symptoms of mental illness itself.  Employing a content analysis of news media over a period that spans from 1928-2019, we explored news media portrayals of abuse and stigmatisation of PwMI and individuals in the LGBTQIA+ communities during significant periods in history including the Nazi era, the civil rights movement, the AIDS epidemic, and the more recent socio-political climate.

Key words: Hate crimes, LGBTQIA+, media, mental illness, stigmatisation, sexual minorities.

Vol 1, Issue 1, April 2020