The LGBT community are no strangers to abuse. Homophobic and trans phobic behaviour occurs all over the world, including in the United Kingdom. Although the UK has special laws to punish people who commit homophobic hate crimes, these types of incidents do still occur. Here are some reasons why people may be homophobic.
Some people carry homophobic attitudes because of their religious beliefs; however it should be noted that not all religious people are homophobic. Some large Christian religions in the United Kingdom still teach that marriage is something which can only occur between a man and a woman. The Old Testament says that homosexual sex is a sin. Orthodox Islamic and Jewish texts also advise against homosexual activities.
Some progress has been made recently, as there are now a number of gay Protestant priests and Rabbis practicing in the UK. Many religions preach tolerance and acceptance of all people, and this often trumps anti-LGBT sentiments. Sadly, there are still some people who do continue to persecute and prejudice LGBT individuals because of their religious beliefs.
Some closeted LGBTQI people actually commit homophobic acts, because they are unable to accept their own sexual orientation or gender identity. There are a lot of complex psychological and social theories behind these types of hate crimes. People may lash out because of the conflicting emotions that they are feeling. If a person has been told that being gay or trans is wrong, then they may struggle to understand their own feelings. These feelings can manifest themselves as anger. They may think that releasing their anger in this way will help them to feel better about their own situation. On the other hand, they may be committing homophobic acts as a way to try to hide their own sexuality. They may feel that targeting other LGBT people is a good way to “prove” that they are not actually gay or trans.
Lack of Education
Some people are transphobic or homophobic due to a lack of a real understanding of what it means to be LGBT. Without being able to access accurate information, they may struggle to make sense of the things that they hear. For example, a lot of transphobia is actually bred from a lack of understanding about the differences between sex and gender. Improving education about what it meant to be trans or what it means to be gay can actually help to reduce this type of discrimination. A lack of education may also mean that people say or do homophobic things without realising it. For example; when children use the word “gay” to mean “bad”, this furthers the idea that being gay is actually a bad thing.
Transphobic and Homophobic people will often spread misinformation or lies about the LGBT community. Some people find it very difficult to separate the facts from fiction. If someone is exposed to fake facts for a long time, this can help to create prejudice, even in people who are normally reasonable and rational. Small lies can quickly build up into bigger lies, and people are more likely to believe the bigger lies if they have already accepted the smaller ones. Unfortunately, social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook now mean that it is easier than ever to get this kind of material out to a wide audience. Likes and shares on social media also mean that some people are exposed to this type of content who may not normally see it. This type of propaganda is used by many different hate groups, not just homophobic or transphobic groups.
The Patriarchy and feelings of inadequacy
The traditional patriarchal structure in the United Kingdom has helped to give rise to some abuse. For centuries, men have been led to believe that they have strength and power over others, therefore some men feel threatened when their power is challenged. Some people go on to commit homophobic assaults because they have been made to feel inadequate, whether intentionally or unintentionally. These feelings of inadequacy can stem from things as trivial as seeing gay men having a good time with straight women, or meeting an LGBT person who is more successful than they are. Men who feel that their power is threatened in this way may try to take their power back through threats or violence.
Some older people are homophobic because of the prevalent attitudes which existed whilst they were growing up. Homosexuality was actually illegal in the UK until 1967 and thousands of gay men were convicted of gross indecency for homosexual sexual activities. People who grew up in this time period may struggle to change their opinions because they were socialised to believe these things. Thankfully, the passage of time is helping to reduce the number of people with historic homophobic attitudes.