The suffix "phobia" is derived from the Greek word "phobos". In English, it means either fear or loathing. "Homophobia" has a variety of meanings, including:
- hatred of homosexuality and/or of homosexuals
- fear of gays and lesbians
- a desire or attempt to discriminate against homosexuals
The fourth meaning appears to be the dominant one among the general population. It places "homophobia" in the same class as "racism" where hatred, fear and discrimination are directed against persons of different races, and "sexism" where the victims are of a specific gender.
For most homophobes (persons who exhibit homophobia) these multiple meanings are not troublesome. An individual who hates homosexuality usually hates homosexuals as well, and wishes to discriminate against them. Their hatred is typically based on fear. However, many conservative religious folks are distressed when the term is used to define their beliefs and actions. Some state that they (and their God) hate homosexuality but love
homosexuals. They do not wish to be lumped with racists and sexists. Others are selective in their discriminatory goals. They might be in favor of equal civil rights for gays and lesbians in employment and accommodation, while opposing equal rights in marriage or adoption. Again, they do not regard themselves as homophobes, even though they work towards the maintenance of inferior human rights for heterosexuals.
This type of concern mirrors a situation decades ago when some people did not consider themselves to be racists even though they opposed inter-racial marriage. They maintained that they had no hatred against persons of any race; they just wanted to prevent them from marrying outside of their race. Similarly, many people do not consider themselves to be sexist, even though they wish to prohibit women from being ordained as clergy or from sharing power equally with their spouses. They believe that they have no hatred of women; they just want them to be excluded from certain roles. They often feel justified in their beliefs by quoting selected passages
from the Bible, interpreted as they like.
Please read also these sections;
- Homophobia's Cost to the Youths
- What Fuels Homophobia?
- Laws against Homosexual Behavior
- University Study of Homophobia
- Results of Public Opinion Polls
- Arguments Used Against Homosexuals and Bisexuals
- Beliefs About Sexual Orientation
- Unstated Reasons for Denying Equal Rights to Homosexuals and Others
- Story of a Fighter Against Homophobia
"I believe that one day the world will judge the witch hunt against homosexuals ... as an unbelievable injustice perpetrated by supposedly 'moral' people against innocent groups, just as harshly as it judges the Spanish Inquisition and the Holocaust. Both the Church and the Nazis believed they were acting in good faith."
N. McLean, Burlington, ON. Letter to the editor, The Globe and Mail, 1998-Apr-11
I retrieved the content of this article from Religious Tolerance Org. an incredibly interesting site about religious problems and faiths, with hundred of very well written articles. Please, visit it at http://www.religioustolerance.org/!