What Is Homophobia?

Find out the meaning of homophobia and where to get support if you experience it.

As lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights charity Stonewall state, homophobia is; ‘The irrational hatred, intolerance and fear of lesbian, gay and bisexual people.’

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.

Everyday Homophobia

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.

If you’re the victim of or witness a hate crime, find out how to report it.

Head back to the LGBT+ campaign page.

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