Despite a rise in liberal politics in recent years, homophobia is still a big social problem and this is, in part, due to the until-recently disproved view that homosexuality was something that could be ‘cured’ or as having a ‘cause’ (Herek 1). In short, many viewed homosexuality as being a psychological disorder and as with many things in society that do not fit in with the perceived idea of ‘normality,’ homosexuality was stigmatised. However, more and more countries and states are beginning to accept civil rights for homosexuals and ‘gay marriage’ is becoming a far more common concept too. As is ‘gay adoption’ where a gay couple can now adopt children whereas before this was not allowed. The main argument against this and gay marriage is the idea that it is against ‘the norm’ and that the child will not experience a ‘normal’ upbringing.
However, this is a ridiculous notion as an adopted child is more likely to experience a consistent feeling of love and nurture and that is just as valid whether its parents are homosexual or heterosexual. In short, homophobia today is inexcusable as it simply demonstrates a level of ignorance that is prevalent in other forms of discrimination such as racism and sexism; however, it is still a big social problem.
The term ‘LGBT’ has become a popular way of describing the alternative lifestyles of individuals and stands for ‘Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual or Transsexual’ and is now widely considered to be the politically correct term to use to describe homosexuality. The existence of such a term should be enough to demonstrate that people who fall under the ‘LGBT’ heading are gradually being accepted as being a mainstream aspect of society. However, as recently as the last twenty years, statistics from one article published on the National Organization for Women’s website indicate that in 1984, LGBT teenagers are five times more likely to miss school because of feeling unsafe and 28% were forced to drop out; in 1993, 85% of teachers were opposed to integrating LGBT themes into the curriculum; and in 1994, a survey of 191 employers found that 18% would fire, 27% would refuse to hire and 26% would refuse to promote a worker who they perceived as being LGBT (Now.org). In short, homophobia is not just an issue that results in a minority of society attacking the LGBT community, it is actually inherent in the system – making it extremely difficult for LGBT individuals to ‘fit in’ and live their lives how they choose to. This reflects the socially held view that LGBT people are ‘different’ and the actions taken to treat them as such are causing significant levels of homophobia in all walks of life.
As touched upon before, this view is generally held because of the decades of beliefs that suggested that homosexuality was a psychological disorder which could be ‘cured’ much like schizophrenia and for a long time, people who were found to be LGBT were frequently locked away in asylums or ‘treated’ for their condition – for example, the renowned scientist, Alan Turing, was chemically castrated as ‘treatment’ of his homosexuality and it is a sign of the times that in 2009, the British government issued him a posthumous apology (BBC News). In short, it is an outmoded view which does not reflect the modern understanding that we now have of LGBT individuals but still stands to influence the homophobic members of society.
In recent years, gay marriage and gay adoption have been hot social topics and more and more acceptance is being found for both. Most recently, the state of New York has legalised gay marriage (Hernandez) – demonstrating that it is only gaining in kudos as time goes on.
However, many still hold the view that gay marriage is unnatural and claim that gay adoption suggests that it is ‘okay’ for children to be brought up by same-sex parents when many feel that a child requires a strong male and female parental figure in their lives. One author, Rex Lopez, in his book entitled Should Gay Marriage Be Legalized? discusses how some feel that gay marriage reduces the “moral fibre” of society and voices the following religious-driven point of view: “Gay marriage undermines the social fibre of the society and if it is continued as an advocacy, numerous people would be attracted to its enticing words” (Lopez 2). The main argument against the gay lifestyle is largely focused on it being ‘immoral’ but then, so is premarital sex and since teenage pregnancies are currently at a record high, it would seem that society is less and less moral in the eyes of the Church – their views seem archaic and out-dated now. In short, marriage is supposed to be a celebration of the love between two individuals – equally, adoption is designed to bring love and nurture into the life of a child who may not experience that otherwise, and as such, gay or otherwise, both institutions should be celebrated and encouraged in the face of a world that is so otherwise full of hate.
As demonstrated here, homophobia is something which is based on old-fashioned views and yet these seem inherently embedded in society as a whole. Therefore, the only real solution to homophobia is to tackle it head on and address the misgivings and ignorance that people hold.
The increase in legalisation of gay marriage is a massive step in the right direction as future generations will recognise it as being totally ‘normal’ and it will hold fewer stigmas as a result. However, currently, individuals who hold homophobic views must be tackled by exploring why they have such opinions. A lot of homophobia stems from zealously religious behaviour as the gay lifestyle is viewed as being immoral but why, exactly, must the term ‘gay’ be synonymous with ‘promiscuous’ too? It is probably fair to suggest that certain members of society will refuse to accept that heterosexuals are equally as promiscuous today as their homosexual counterparts – sex is rife in society and long gone are the days of ‘no sex before marriage’ but it is the refusal to accept that this is the case across the board and a determination to tar LGBT people with that brush and nobody else which enhances the view that their lifestyle is in some way immoral. The inherence of the problem can only be tackled by disproving old-fashioned myths about LGBT people and the government and authorities must be seen as supporting this as it is essentially their fault that the issues are there in the first place. But much like the belief that homosexuality has a ‘cause,’ society must address the causes of homophobia and tackle them at the root.
“Come Out Against Homophobia: Did You Know?” Now.org. National Organization for Women. N.d. Web. 3 August 2011.
“Gay Marriage: with a kiss and a vow, the day begins.” Javier C. Hernandez. The New York Times. 24 July 2011. Web. 3 August 2011.
“PM Apology After Turing Petition.” BBC News. BBC. 11 Sept. 2009. Web. 3 August 2011.
Herek PhD, Gregory M. “Beyond ‘Homophobia’: a social psychological perspective on attitudes towards lesbians and gay men.” Homophobia: an overview. Ed. John P. De Cecco. New York: The Haworth Press, 1984. Print.
Lopez, Rex. Should Gay Marriage Be Legalized? Germany: Books on Demand, 2007. Print.