What is Homophobia?
It is a condition wherein a person exhibits behavior of negative feelings and attitude towards gay and lesbian persons. It also includes people who are asexual or intersexual. It can be defined as a term which implies violence or a negative attitude towards homosexuals mainly due to irrational or unexplained fear of homosexuality. This could actually be a result of the homosexual urges of the homophobic himself. It also reflects the contempt for or fear of gay men or lesbians. It includes any discrimination against homosexual individuals in any open public discourse.
Facts unknown about homophobia
The activists fighting for gay rights usually attempt to explain that anyone who opposes homosexual behavior is irrational, and also claim the other parties to be homophobic.
Homophobia can be classified under various headings as given below-
a. Institutionalised homophobia- These include the religious teachings which are mostly anti-homosexual, although some religions may have a positive or neutral stand about homosexuality. It is important to note that some religious teachings may go to the extent of supporting and blessing marriages between same-sex individuals. It also includes state-sponsored homophobia, which implies penalization and criminalization of homosexual individuals as per the state laws.
b. Internalized Homophobia- This type of homophobia includes the uncomfortable attitude towards self due to the guilt feeling or fear associated to homosexuality of oneself. It is due to the conscious or unconscious efforts on the part of homosexuals to conform to the sexual norms and heterosexuality of community. It is coupled with severe suppression of their own sexuality, denial and false display of heterosexual behavior.
c. Social homophobia- It is the fear of being identified as gay or homosexual by the community. Due to the stigma attached to Homophobia, it is always coupled with insecurity about masculinity of self in men. It has been observed that a person who harbors homophobic feelings and thoughts usually expresses negative feelings for the gay community. They also try to distance themselves from all gay people and their social status. This way they try to establish their role as a heterosexual in their social circuit and avoid being labeled as a gay or lesbian. This is also a method used by gay people to protect their maleness or masculinity.
Attempts to fight homophobia
Several attempts have been made by human rights organizations to combat and oppose laws that make homosexuality a crime. Some such attempts include preventing homophobic prejudice by teaching facts about homosexuality and giving examples of historical figures who were gay and suffered due to discrimination. It also includes removing anti-gay perceptions and spreading awareness about rise of AIDS among homosexuals. Homophobia is one of the major reasons for several cases of AIDS prevalent across the globe. In several countries, discrimination and stigma associated with the condition prevents homosexuals from undergoing HIV treatment and services.
Although homosexuality is still considered as a taboo in some countries, some countries like USA, UK, France etc. are showing growing awareness and tolerance for homosexuality. This has helped reduce the prevalent cases of homophobia in these countries. However, in several Asian countries, it is still considered illegal and not accepted as a part of the culture. Some significant steps have been taken by the Indian Government to address the issue of homophobia, to avoid discrimination against homosexuals. The law that criminalized homosexuality was abolished by the Indian Government in July 2009. Still, there is a long way to go till it is formally accepted by the citizens of India and people worldwide.