New York Times Calls It “Sexual Preference”

times1Using the sort of coded language normally reserved for Christian fundamentalist websites, the New York Times published a story on visa restrictions, referring to “sexual preference”. In Michell Higgins’ ‘The Baffling World of Visa Restrictions’, she writes: “Religion and sexual preferences, as well, are sometimes cited as reasons for tourists to be denied entry to one country or another.”

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  • Chitown Kev

    Is the Old Gray Lady going back to the days were they can’t even print the word “gay,” next?

  • akn

    Maybe she’s just repeating the actual language/phrase used by whatever agency enforces the restriction…

  • Sebbe

    Didn’t she used to be at the Wall Street Journal?

    That said, she is a travel writer apparently and the article appears to be using the language that could be used in a visa denial. I do not believe this reflects the position of the NYTimes, but should have been made more clear if she was merely using the language used by various Ministries of Foreign Affairs or not.

  • Chitown Kev



    I have noticed that the Lady has made an increasing number of editorial mistakes (not all gay-related). I mean, I occasionally edit newsletters and other printed materials, and I routinely go through the NYT editing what should be obvious. I understand deadlines and all of that, but I should not be able to do that as much as I find myself doing it. Not with the Times.

  • Pragmatist

    Bah. Non-issue. Orientation is a “preference” (either relative or absolute, depending on the person).

  • Sebbe

    @Chitown Kev – You are right, not really acceptable that an editing mistake can so frequently slip through in the NYTimes.

  • Chitown Kev

    I am looking in my AP Stylebook and the only entry that I see that is any help is for the word “gay.” The Stylebook only states to “avoid references to gay, homosexual, or alternative ‘lifestyle’.”

    I believe that the NYT would have it’s own style guide (it may be online). I know that there is an LGBT style guide too. It would be helpful if the AP were to add an appendix for acceptable usage and style, just as the AP has special appendices for sports and business guidelines.

  • Sebbe

    @Chitown Kev – Like you said above as well, of course there are deadlines and mistakes can be made, but this is not exactly “breaking news”.

  • Chitown Kev


    The NLGJA style guide explicitly states to use “sexual orientation” as opposed to “sexual preference” and there are good reasons for that. Any reporter that would even touch gay issues needs to be familiar with that style book.

  • RichardR

    @Chitown Kev: Kev, I fear “Pragmatist” may be making a different sort of point. Perhaps he or she will expand and expound.

  • strumpetwindsock

    Most print and broadcast up here use the term “sexual orientation”, partially because that is the term used most frequently in legislation, and also it is much less of a mouthfull and more accurate than saying “gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgendered”.

    Use of the word “preference” is a bit odd, because it implies a lifestyle choice, but I have also seen that term often enough. I wouldn’t use it personally.

    But I wouldn’t assume it’s an editorial slant unless they stop using “orientation” altogether. It could easily have been result of not enough coffee, or a editor who was not completely on the ball.

    My recommendation: write a letter so they know to pay attention next time, but don’t assume a conspiracy on the basis of one story.

  • Chitown Kev


    Nor do I assume it here, although the New York Times has a infamous history with this type of shit. Rosenthal is gone, I understand that, but good catch by Japhy because we need to be vigilant.

  • strumpetwindsock

    @Chitown Kev:
    I should probably have added that I don’t regularly read the NYT, so if there were a conspiraby I wouldn’t actually know about it.

    And agreed. It pays to be vigilant and keep them on their toes, even if there’s no malice intended.

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