Victory! Zoo apologises for 'hottest asylum seeker' competition

The petition calling on ZOO magazine to apologise and scrap its 'hottest asylum seeker competition' accumulated over 6000 signatures. sent out the following email to petition supporters today.  Thanks to all who signed and shared the petition. You can read the original article here.

“ZOO Weekly regrets any offence caused to any of our readers, and to any asylum seeker or refugee and their families and supporters. We apologise for being insensitive.” -- Tim Keen, editor of Zoo Weekly

[UPDATE] Petition hits over 6000 signatures, ZOO Weekly apologises, pulls 'hottest asylum seeker competition'

Wow, that was fast. Zoo Weekly’s "hottest asylum seeker" competition didn't even make it through the weekend. Less than 24 hours after Matt Darvas started his petition on, the editor Tim Keen called him personally -- and promised to print a full apology in the next issue.

Matt is close friends with female refugees who have fled war, violence and sexual assault in their own countries, so he was appalled when he heard Zoo Weekly was asking female asylum seekers who had "swapped persecution for s-xiness" to send in pictures -- and joking about "shooting" them with a camera.

So he decided to take a stand. You and more than 6,000 others joined him, and his campaign ignited a furore across the media and the general public. Media outlets from The Sydney Morning Herald to Yahoo! covered the campaign -- it even gained international attention in The Guardian (UK).
With backlash growing by the hour, editor Tim Keen admitted that the traumatic experiences of asylum seekers were "too important for jokes," and apologised to asylum seekers, their friends, family and supporters.

Matt says he's disappointed that the competition happened at all. But he's thrilled at the response: "A massive thank you and cheer to everyone who helped stop this disgusting and exploitative competition."
Matt’s petition is just one of hundreds that are started on every day -- and every day, people like him are making a difference on issues they care about. If there’s something you want to speak out about, it only takes a couple of minutes to create a petition -- just click here to get started.

Thanks for being a part of this,
Bobbi and the team

P.S. Matt works alongside refugees and asylum seekers in his community every day, and he says there's a lot more ordinary people can do to help fight for their rights in the Australian community. If you want to get more involved, you can:

1. Visit Welcome to Australia's homepage, a movement that aims to create a culture of welcome towards asylum seekers and refugees.

2. Check out Matt's blog, which follows his work to share the stories of asylum seekers and refugees in his community.

An apology is probably the best we can expect from ZOO magazine given its usual content so it's great the petition achieved this aim. Well done to Matt Darvas for initiating the petition and taking a stand against the exploitation of asylum seeker women.

We do note that although the apology was extended to Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young, they have not yet removed her image from ZOO's website. ZOO magazine had pressured Senator Hanson-Young to pose for the magazine, saying they would host the 'next boatload' of asylum seekers in its office if she did. When she refused, they photoshopped her head onto the body of a lingerie model.

Collective Shout supporters are looking forward to the day when ZOO magazine folds. With plummeting sales figures, that time may be coming sooner rather than later. We will be watching carefully to see which companies choose to advertise with ZOO magazine.

More reading

Herald Sun - Zoo Weekly's 'hottest asylum seeker' photo shoot stunt sparks anger

Melinda Tankard Reist - Don't want to pose for Zoo? Too bad, we'll use your image anyway

Daily Life - Are you Australia's hottest asylum seeker?

Herald Sun - Zoo dumps 'sexiest asylum seeker' comp


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