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LGBTQphobia: What is it?


Like other phobias, LGBTQphobias are often based on irrational fears and focus on things that are not dangerous. For example: the recognition of sexual and gender diversity can be frightening to some people because they feel it challenges their identity as a man, woman, or heterosexual person. Although LGBTQphobias are often rooted in a fear of difference, it should be noted that they can also stem from other emotions such as disgust or hate.

LGBTQphobias can manifest in a variety of ways including:


  • Negative attitudes. Ex: "I don't like LGBTQ+ people".

  • Discrimination: Differential treatment based on a person's identity: e.g. Not giving a job to a trans person because they are trans.

  • Violence: physical, verbal and sexual assaults that are intended to harm the person.

  • Harassment: Repeated (or one-time, but severe) vexatious conduct that is hostile or unwanted, and that harms the person (e.g., taunting, isolating or sabotaging the person, refusing to acknowledge their gender identity). Harassment can also have a sexual dimension (gestures, advances, etc.). To learn more, visit our page on harassment

  • Invalidation: Invalidating a person's identity is questioning or disrespecting a person's sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. Ex: denying the existence of bisexual, asexual or non-binary people.

Consequences of fear

Erase with censorship

One of the greatest exampless striking fear response to LGBTQ+ identities is censorship. There are laws and practices around the world that seek to erase LGBTQ+ identities, whether by controlling what young people can learn in school, what can besee on television, or what is considered appropriate for public space.

 "Save our children"

The protection of children is often at the heart of the arguments of LGBTQphobic measures. For example, the so-called "Don't Say Gay" law in the United States was justified as follows: "We will ensure that parents can send their children to school so that they receive an education and not an indoctrination"[1].His press officer added that the people who opposed this law were "groomers".[2](a term used to refer to pedophiles who create bonds of trust with children). This fear of the recruitment of young people by LGBTQ+ people is found in many speeches, including that of Anita Bryant when she led her “Save our children” campaign in 1977 and who declared: “Homosexuals cannot reproduce, they must therefore recruit. And to refresh their ranks, they must recruit American youth."[3]

Censorship has harmful consequences

According to Human Rights Watch, the 2013 Russian LGBTQ+ censorship law “has contributed to escalating stigma, harassment, and violence against LGBT people in Russia. It has also been used to shut down referral services offering information and psychological support to minors and to discourage support groups and mental health professionals from working with children. It has further entrenched antipathy towards LGBT people and had an intimidating effect on healthcare professionalsmental health working with LGBT youth, as some psychologists report that they self-censor to address issues of sexual orientation and gender identity”[1]

Some examples of censorship around the world
  • Anti-LGBTQ+ laws in the United States

In 2022, Florida passed the law officially named the “Parental Rights in Education bill” but better known as the “Don't Say Gay Bill” because it prohibits: “Classroom teaching by school personnel or third parties about sexual orientation or gender identity" in kindergarten through third grade" or in a manner that is not appropriate for the age or development of the students in accordance with state standards .”

This law is not the only one that violates LGBTQ+ freedoms indeed, in 2023, more than 400 bills that restrict LGBTQ+ rights have been proposed in the United States 16. Among these bills, several have been passed as law, among them a law banning drag shows in Tenessee17 and laws that restrict access to gender affirmation care for trans people.

“I really feel like my lawmakers want everyone to believe that kids like me don't really exist. They try to convince everyone that I'm some kind of scary freak or that I have something wrong,” said Libby Gonzales, a 12-year old transgender student in Texas.[1]

  • The “anti-gay propaganda” law in Russia

The anti-gay propaganda law was passed unanimously on June 15, 2013 in Russia. The legislative ban on "homosexual propaganda" to minors is a law that "aims to protect children from information that undermines traditional family values", it therefore prohibits "the promotion of non-traditional sexual relations to minors »

In 2017, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled that this law violated freedom of expression and the right to live without discrimination, guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights, and that it was actually bad for the kids.[2]

  • Censorship of homosexuality and effeminate men in China

Although homosexuality has not been a crime since 1997 in China, marriage between people of the same gender is prohibited and LGBTQ questions and issues remain taboo there. Last year, prominent academic groups advocating for the rights of LGBTQ people had their accounts blocked on WeChat (popular social network in China).   The censorship of Web content is combined with that of LGBTQ+ representations in cultural products.   For example, in 2022, passages from the “Friends” series were modified and censored by China since they referred to homosexuality[3].   Similarly, two lines evoking the homosexuality of an important character have been removed from the film "Fantastic Beasts 3: Dumbledore's Secrets"[4].

In 2021, the Beijing government banned TV channels from showing effeminate men[5]. China's television regulator has told broadcasters to "resolutely put an end [in their programs] to effeminate men and other abnormal aesthetics".

  • Ban on rainbow flags in Saudi Arabia

In 2022 Saudi authorities cracked down on rainbow-colored toys and clothing in stores in the country's capital, Riyadh, claiming the items encourage homosexuality.[6]


The criminalization and negative portrayal of LGBTQ+ people in the media often creates a climate conducive to attacks on LGBTQ+ people.


“Article 347 of the Cameroonian criminal code prohibits any sexual practice between two men and article 83 on cybercrime which prohibits any electronic exchange of a sexual nature or proposal between people of the same sex.These hostile laws create a sense of fear, discrimination and stigma against LGBTQ+ people. As a transgender person, I suffer retaliation from transphobic people all the time and the last one was last year when I was beaten up by a group of people who ambushed me on the way out of my work on the way to my home. »


The controversy surrounding the World Cup in Qatar has sparked anger in LGBTQ+ communities. Qatar's Penal Code still criminalizes sex between men, punishable by up to seven years in prison. According to Section 296, “to lead or induce a man in any way, including seduction, to commit an act of sodomy or debauchery” is an offence. 

Human Rights Watch documented six cases of severe and repeated beatings and five cases of sexual harassment of LGBTQ+ people in police custody between 2019 and 2022. Security forces arrested people in public places based solely on their gender expression, and illegally searched their phones[1].


Some LGBTQphobias are manifested by the idea that LGBTQ+ people are suffering from a disease that should be cured by “conversion therapy”.

Conversion therapies are all practices that aim to change a person's sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression, or that encourage the denial and rejection of these.




I'Corrective rape' is a practice used to 'cure' a person (especially women) of their homosexuality through forced heterosexual intercourse.

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