As lesbian, gay bisexual and transgender rights charity Stonewall state, homophobia is; 'The irrational hatred, intolerance and fear of lesbian, gay and bisexual people.'
What Is Homophobia?
Homophobia is often the term used for intolerance toward bisexual people, but the bisexual community also struggle with biphobia. This is when their sexuality is seen as invalid. Biphobia comes from a belief that you are either straight or gay, and that sexuality is not a spectrum. How are people homophobic?
People can be homophobic in many different ways. Homophobia takes the form of insults, discrimination and even includes violence. Such abuse is motivated purely on the fact someone is of a different sexual orientation.
This bullying is born out of ignorance, fear and, in many cases, immaturity. Homophobia isn’t always obvious either. If you are ignored or not treated with the same respect as a heterosexual person this is still homophobia.
A report by Stonewall on the experience of LGBTQ+ young people in schools in Britain in 2017 found that 45% of lesbian, gay and bisexual young people experienced homophobic bullying in Britain's schools, and 40% lesbian, gay and bisexual pupils who experience bullying have skipped school because of it.
Many phrases and words may appear as harmless but can also be homophobic. The majority of LGBTQ+ pupils – 86%– regularly hear phrases such as ‘that’s so gay’ or ‘you’re so gay’ in school according to the 2017 Stonewall report.
According to slang expert Tony Thorne the word ‘gay’ in schools has partly lost its sexual connotations and to many young people was another word meaning ‘lame’ or ‘rubbish’. However, the fact the word is being used in a negative light means it can be regarded as homophobic.
Half of LGBT pupils hear homophobic slurs ‘frequently’ or ‘often’ at school according to a 2017 report by Stonewall. Who’s trying to make a difference? There are organisations that work on behalf of LGBT people such as LGBT Youth Scotland who have a lot of groups you can go to across Scotland, and Young Stonewall who campaign for equality and fair treatment for LGBTQ+ people, and against discrimination.
More Information & Support
If you are the victim of homophobic bullying, in sport, at work or school help is available.Call Samaritans on 116 123. You can learn more about sexual identity on the ChildLine website. You can also phone them on 0800 1111.
What are homophobia and sexual orientation discrimination?
The homophobia definition is the fear, hatred, discomfort with, or mistrust of people who are lesbian, gay, or bisexual. Biphobia is fear, hatred, discomfort, or mistrust, specifically of people who are bisexual. Similarly, transphobia is fear, hatred, discomfort with, or mistrust of people who are transgender, genderqueer, or don’t follow traditional gender norms.
Although transphobia, biphobia, and homophobia are similar, they’re not the same thing. Both gay and straight people can be transphobic and biphobic, and people can be transphobic without being homophobic or biphobic.
Homophobia can take many different forms, including negative attitudes and beliefs about, aversion to, or prejudice against bisexual, lesbian, and gay people. It’s often based in irrational fear and misunderstanding. Some people’s homophobia may be rooted in conservative religious beliefs. People may hold homophobic beliefs if they were taught them by parents and families.
Homophobic people may use mean language and name-calling when they talk about lesbian and gay people. Biphobic people may tell bisexual people that it’s “just for attention,” or that they’re inherently cheaters. In its most extreme forms, homophobia and biphobia can cause people to bully, abuse, and inflict violence on lesbian, gay, and bisexual people.
Some LGBTQ people experience discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. This may be discrimination from religious institutions, companies, or from our government. Examples include same-sex couples not being allowed to marry, getting legally fired just for being LGBTQ, or not being allowed into certain housing.
LGBTQ people and their allies have fought for equal rights and continue to do so, especially concerning marriage, employment, housing and health care equality, and protection from hate crimes (violence against LGBTQ people because of who they are).
What is internalized homophobia?
Internalized homophobia refers to people who are homophobic while also experiencing same-sex attraction themselves. Sometimes, people may have negative attitudes and beliefs about those who experience same-sex attraction, and then turn the negative beliefs in on themselves rather than come to terms with their own desires.
This may mean that they feel discomfort and disapproval with their own same-sex attractions, never accept their same-sex attractions, or never identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual.
People dealing with internalized homophobia may feel the need to “prove” that they’re straight, exhibit very stereotypical behavior of straight men and women, or even bully and discriminate against openly gay people.
What is outing?
Outing is the act of revealing someone else's sexual orientation without their permission. If you share information about someone's sexual orientation against their wishes, you risk affecting their lives very negatively by making them feel embarrassed, upset, and vulnerable.
You may also put them at risk for discrimination and violence. If someone shares their orientation with you, remember that this is very personal information and it’s an honor that they trusted you enough to tell you. Always ask them what you’re allowed to share with others and respect their wishes.
Not everyone lives in a place that has a Gay/Straight Alliance in their high school, or an LGBTQ community center. In this situation, the Internet is super useful in finding communities and support in dealing with homophobia and discrimination.
If you’re a young person who’s experiencing harassment in school, it’s important to tell someone, even if that seems scary. If you don’t seek help and just accept it, the harassment will probably continue, or maybe even get worse over time. This can make it hard to keep up with grades, activities, and school in general.
Some schools may have an anti-bullying and harassment policy, and some states have adopted a Safe Schools Law, which means that your school administrators are legally required to stop the harassment. If possible, find a trusted teacher or adult who is an ally to LGBTQ students and ask for their help.
If you’re a young person experiencing homophobia and it’s causing you to feel depressed or suicidal, the Trevor Project can help.
When addressing homophobia in others:
Decide if it’s safe to address the issue. Some things to consider: Will you be confronting a stranger in public? Or a friend or family member in private? Do you want to speak up now or save it for later, when you’re alone with the person? Would it be safest for you leave it alone and walk away?
Ask questions and stay calm. Often, people don’t know that the language they’re using is insensitive. Avoid insulting them and tell them why you find their words offensive.
Rising populism is stoking homophobia across Europe, say campaigners
Homophobic hate crimes are on the rise across Europe as socially conservative politics fuels division, according to a report by an advocacy group. ILGA-Europe, a pro-LGBT+ campaign organisation, said it had recorded an increase in hate speech by religious and political leaders in 17 European nations.
As well as eastern Europe, where traditionalist opposition to gay rights is commonplace, there was a growing willingness by some populist politicians to criticise LGBT+ people.
“It’s not just countries of eastern Europe where people traditionally think there is more organised opposition — the groups that are opposing LGBTI equality are popping up in more places,” said Evelyne Paradis, the executive director of ILGA-Europe.
“Those groups tend to be more active where there is overall insecurity and anxiety in the population, where the overall political discourse, not just on LGBTI rights, is a bit more toxic, where populist parties are very active.”
As evidence, ILGA-Europe cited cases across the continent where political figures felt emboldened to condemn LGBT+ advocacy. In Finland, a former interior minister attacked a Pride march as endorsing that which is “against God’s will” and described gay relationships as “sinful and shameful”.
The nationalist far-right Vox party has also surged to prominence in Spain in recent years, with one of its Madrid lawmakers also attacking the city’s Pride march in 2019. Rocio Monasterio said the celebrations would “denigrate the dignity of people” while “impregnating the centre with an unhealthy and unbearable stench”.
In Hungary meanwhile, the speaker of parliament has equated gay pride with paedophilia and the government has pulled out of the Eurovision song contest, reportedly because it is “too gay” for the nation’s conservative ruling party.
Poland’s nationalist government campaign against what it called “LGBT ideology” during last year’s election campaign, and the then-deputy prime minister of Italy, Matteo Salvini, spoke at a conference in March 2019 that promoted “natural families” over LGBT+ adoption
However, ILGA-Europe’s report is not based on hate crime data across Europe, instead referring to what it described as a “heavy trend” of anti-LGBT+ hate speech.
A 2018 report by the EU’s own agency, which promotes human rights, found many member states were not adequately collecting data on hate crimes and recommended all police forces be trained to assess whether prejudice was a motivating factor when investigating crime.
Rising hate speech has been linked to spikes in violence, according to research by Helga Eggebo, a Norwegian scientist at the Nordland Research Institute.
“There is a relationship between general negative attitudes, hate speech and violent crime against minority groups,” she said. “For example, there was a documented rise in violent hate crime against Muslim women after 9/11.”
But Ms Paradis said alongside rising homophobia were successes for the LGBT+ movement, including more and more legal recognition of same-sex unions, parental rights for gay couples, and moves to ban conversion therapy.
Stigma and Discrimination
Homophobia, stigma (negative and usually unfair beliefs), and discrimination (unfairly treating a person or group of people) against gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men still exist in the United States and can negatively affect the health and well-being of this community.
These negative beliefs and actions can affect the physical and mental health of gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men, whether they seek and are able to get health services, and the quality of the services they may receive. Such barriers to health must be addressed at different levels of society, such as health care settings, work places, and schools to improve the health of gay and bisexual men throughout their lives.
The Effects of Negative Attitudes on Gay, Bisexual, and Other Men Who Have Sex with Men
Some people may have negative attitudes toward gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men. These attitudes can lead to rejection by friends and family, discriminatory acts and violence, and laws and policies with negative consequences. If you are gay, bisexual, or a man who has sex with other men, homophobia, stigma, and discrimination can:
Affect your income, whether you can get or keep a job, and your ability to get and keep health insurance.
Limit your access to high quality health care that is responsive to your health issues.
Add to poor mental health and poor coping skills, such as substance abuse, risky sexual behaviors, and suicide attempts.
Affect your ability to have and maintain long-term same-sex relationships that lower your chances of getting HIV & STDs.
Make it harder for you to be open about your sexual orientation, which can increase stress, limit social support, and negatively affect your health.
Homophobia, stigma, and discrimination can be especially hard for young men who are gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men. These negative attitudes increase their chance of experiencing violence, especially compared with other students in their schools. Violence can include behaviors such as bullying, teasing, harassment, physical assault, and suicide-related behaviors.
Gay and bisexual youth and other sexual minorities are more likely to be rejected by their families. This increases the possibility of them becoming homeless. Around 40% of homeless youth are LGBT. A study published in 2009 compared gay, lesbian, and bisexual young adults who experienced strong rejection from their families with their peers who had more supportive families. The researchers found that those who experienced stronger rejection were about:
8 times more likely to have tried to commit suicide
6 times more likely to report high levels of depression
3 times more likely to use illegal drugs
3 times more likely to have risky sex
What Can Parents and Guardians Do?
Parents of a gay or bisexual teen can have an important impact on their child’s current and future mental and physical well-being. Parents should talk openly with their teen about any problems or concerns and watch for behaviors that might show their child is being bullied or is experiencing violence. If bullying, violence, or depression is suspected, parents should take immediate action working with school staff and other adults in the community.
In addition, parents who talk with and listen to their teens in a way that invites open discussion about sexual orientation can help their teens feel loved and supported. Parents should have honest conversations with their teens about safer sex, STDS, and HIV prevention. Parents should also talk with their teens about how to avoid risky behavior and unsafe or high-risk situations.
Parents also should develop common goals with their teens, such as being healthy and doing well in school. Many organizations and online information resources exist to help parents learn more about how they can support their gay and bisexual teen, other family members, and their teens’ friends.
What Can Schools Do?
Schools can also help reduce stigma and discrimination for young gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men. A positive school environment is associated with less depression, fewer suicidal feelings, lower substance use, and fewer unexcused school absences among LGBT students. Schools can help create safer and more supportive environments by preventing bullying and harassment, promoting school connectedness, and promoting parent engagement. This can be done through the following policies and practices:
Encourage respect for all students and not allow bullying, harassment, or violence against any students.
Identify “safe spaces,” such as counselors’ offices, designated classrooms, or student organizations, where gay and bisexual youth can get support from administrator, teacher, or other school staff.
Encourage student-led and student-organized school clubs that promote a safe, welcoming, and accepting school environment (such as gay-straight alliances, which are school clubs open to youth of all sexual orientations).
Make sure that health classes or educational materials include HIV and STD information that is relevant to gay and bisexual youth too, making sure that the information uses inclusive words or terms.
Encourage school district and school staff to create and publicize trainings on how to create safe and supportive school environments for all students, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity and encourage staff to attend these trainings.
Make it easier for students to have access to community-based providers who have experience providing health services, including HIV/STD testing and counseling, and social and psychological services to gay and bisexual youth.
You can also help by reporting discrimination, especially while seeking and receiving healthcare services. This could also have a positive impact on the environment for other gay and bisexual men. Hospitals can’t discriminate against people based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Hospitals that receive funding from the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare are required to have nondiscriminatory hospital visitation policiesExternal, so that same-sex partners and other family members can visit loved ones in the hospital.
Whether you are gay or straight, you can help reduce homophobia, stigma, and discrimination in your community and decrease the negative health effects. Even small things can make a difference, such as supporting a family member, friend, or co-worker.
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