An Australian newspaper has removed a gossip column and its writer has offered an apology after being accused of outing actress Rebel Wilson.
On Friday, of her with her new partner, saying she had found her “Disney princess”.
But the following day, wrote they’d known about the relationship before it was public.
Their celebrity reporter said he had given Wilson 1.5 days to provide comment for a story.
That report sparked widespread criticism on social media, with LGBTQ+ campaigners saying it was unacceptable to put pressure on people to come out.
A Stonewall spokesperson said: “Coming out is a deeply personal decision. Whether, when and how to come out should be decided by the individual, entirely on their terms.
“It is simply not OK to ‘out’ LGBTQ+ people or put pressure on us to come out. Media outlets should take care not to sensationalise LGBTQ+ lives and relationships.”
In response, the newspaper denied pressuring Wilson, saying it had “simply asked questions”.
But on Monday, amid continued public backlash, columnist Andrew Hornery admitted they had “mishandled steps in our approach”.
“It is not the Herald’s business to ‘out’ people and that is not what we set out to do. But I understand why my email has been seen as a threat. The framing of it was a mistake.”
He also said that “as a gay man, I’m well aware of how deeply discrimination hurts” and that he would not wish to “inflict that pain on someone else”.
He included in his Monday column the email he had sent Wilson’s representatives last Thursday morning.
In it he had written that he had “enough detail to publish” and “several sources”, before specifying a Friday 13:00 deadline.
“In the interests of transparency and fairness, before publishing I am reaching out to Rebel to see if she will engage….,” he’d written.
Wilson did not respond to the email before making her own post on Friday. She has not directly acknowledged the newspaper’s actions.
But in response to a Twitter post saying it wasn’t her choice to come out, the 42-year-old Australian actress, who is known for roles in Bridesmaids and Pitch Perfect among others, said it was a “very hard situation but trying to handle it with grace”.
Wilson’s post about her relationship with leisurewear designer Ramona Agruma prompted a wave of congratulations from fans and famous friends – along with more than 1.6 million likes.
But in his original column, Hornery claimed that Wilson had “opted to gazump the story” after he’d been in touch.
He added that “her choice to ignore our discreet, genuine and honest queries was, in our view, underwhelming”.
In Monday’s note he acknowledged “the tone of my column on Saturday was also off”.
“I got it wrong,” he admitted. “I allowed my disappointment to cast a shadow over the piece. That was not fair and I apologise.”
The newspaper’s editor, Bevan Shields, was also criticised when he defending the report.
In it he denied the paper had outed Wilson, saying the newsroom had made no decision on whether a report would have been published.
He wrote: “Like other mastheads do every day, we simply asked questions and as standard practice included a deadline for a response.”
That response sparked further anger on social media.
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