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This Australian Newspaper's Transphobic Headline Breached Press Council Standards

The Australian newspaper was widely criticised for its coverage of Mayang Prasetyo's death.

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Australian newspaper The Courier Mail has been found in breach of Australian Press Council (APC) standards for its coverage of a transgender woman's murder, including referring to her as a "she male" on the front page.

The paper drew extensive criticism from transgender advocates for its coverage of Mayang Prasetyo's murder in October last year. Along with the cover headline "Monster Chef and the She Male", the coverage also called Prasetyo a "ladyboy", included several photos of her in swimwear, and repeatedly referred to the fact she was a sex worker.

Prasetyo was killed, dismembered, and cooked by her boyfriend Marcus Volke, who died of self-inflicted knife wounds after fleeing the scene.

The APC found the News Corp tabloid was in violation of two standards, including presenting material with "reasonable fairness and balance" and avoiding causing "substantial offence, distress or prejudice".

They did not accept The Courier Mail's argument that Prasetyo's job as a sex worker was part of the police investigation and therefore a legitimate thing to highlight.

"The prominent treatment given to the victim's gender, and the repetitive detail of her sex work, was gratuitous and contributed to the substantial offence," the report said.

"This was not sufficiently warranted in the public interest."

The report noted steps taken by The Courier Mail to respond to complaints and prevent further incidents.

Glenn Hunt / Getty Images

A candlelight vigil to commemorate the life of Mayang Prasetyo on October 10, 2014 in Brisbane, Australia.

Efforts to respond to complainants included an editorial, published the following day, calling for the Prasetyo's memory to be valued and saying they had "no intention of diminishing the value" of her life.

The Courier Mail also pointed to a second editorial apologising to those offended, and the publication of critical letters and articles, as positive steps they had taken.

The publication told APC that training and counselling for editorial staff had been introduced to avoid future incidents.

Lane Sainty is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Sydney, Australia.

Contact Lane Sainty at

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