LGBTI mental health concerns over new Ten host
Leading LGBTI mental health expert, Paul Martin, has written to Network Ten to express his concern over the hiring of controversial New Zealand broadcaster, Paul Henry, as co-host for its flagship Breakfast program due to be launched early next year.
Martin, a Brisbane-based psychologist with over 25 years experience in dealing with mental health issues affecting LGBTI people, told SX that media reports of comments Henry made in 2009 while a live morning show host for TVNZ about homosexuality being “unnatural”, were somewhat disconcerting.
“Given that many LGBTI grow up developing negative beliefs about what it means to be ‘different’ which includes being disordered and defective, words like this can confirm for the person that these beliefs are in fact true. This is what causes psychological damage such as depression and anxiety,” Martin said.
A complaint made to New Zealand’s Broadcasting Standards Authority about Henry’s comments about homosexuality was not upheld following an investigation.
Henry, however, was eventually forced to resign from TVNZ last year, after the station received hundreds of complaints when he questioned whether New Zealand’s Governor-General Sir Anand Satyanand, who is of Fijian-Indian heritage, was “even a New Zealander”.
Despite a public apology, TVNZ CEO, Rick Ellis, subsequently labelled the comments “unacceptable” before accepting Henry’s resignation.
Only a matter of days prior to that incident, Henry was in hot water for seemingly taking delight in mispronouncing and ridiculing the name of Delhi’s chief Minister, Sheila Dikshit, during coverage of the 2010 Commonwealth Games.
Henry’s new employers, Network Ten, have informed SX that although they hold “no concerns” over Henry’s role, the television station will respond “directly” to Martin’s letter.
Gabrielle Crittenden, from Network Ten’s Corporate Communications division, told SX that although she was precluded from talking about Henry’s past employment, his new show would fully abide with industry standards.
“I can’t comment on what happened on other network in another country, but Breakfast will comply with the Commercial Television Code of Practice.
“In addition to the Code of Practice, we proactively ensure that people who work on productions like this go through a process where they understand the Code. We will actually go through with them how the production will work and what the Code expects of them,” Crittenden said.
“We’re not leaving him to his own devices and expect him to understand that, we will go through a process with him and everybody else who works on that program.”
Henry, who has reportedly been offered over $1 million, will co-host the new Breakfast program with celebrity doctor, Andrew Rochford, and an as-yet unnamed female presenter.