Homophobia and biphobia
As technology becomes more sophisticated and the internet becomes home to an increasing proportion of our day-to-day interactions, we need to ensure that we are doing all we can to challenge abuse where it happens, especially when targeted at individuals and groups because of their identities.
Gay, lesbian and bisexual people can face discrimination and abuse online, as do those who define their sexual orientation in a range of other ways, such as asexual. Anyone perceived as being gay, lesbian or bisexual may receive homophobic or biphobic abuse, whatever their sexual orientation. Homophobia is hate crime and can be reported to the police.
The internet has enabled LGB people to contact others, share information and ideas, counter prejudice, and form social and sexual interactions. But people can experience online abuse, including revenge porn, stalking, domestic violence, blackmail, ‘outing’ without consent, and incitement to violence.
What starts off as abuse against an individual can quickly become abuse against everyone with those characteristics. The impact of online abuse against individuals often stretches far beyond the individuals involved.
If this is happening to you, speak up and get help from an LGBT organisation or sympathetic expert support agency.
Galop (to get advice, help reporting and a place to talk)
LGBT Consortium (to find your local group)
Broken Rainbow (for abuse within families and relationships)
London Lesbian & Gay Switchboard (for local LGBT helplines)
Stop Hate UK (to report any form of hate crime)
Victim Support (advice for anyone experiencing homophobic or biphobic hate crime)
See also the advice on the Taking Action page.
Photographer: Del LaGrace Volcano
Who: Trevor was a gay man whose Facebook page was hacked by someone who used it to send offensive messages to other people.
The case: The messages sent from Trevor’s Facebook account included information about him being gay, used sexual language and made explicit sexual references. He changed his password which stopped the messages but another profile was set up in his name to spread false rumours. He contacted Facebook, which deleted the profile, but then another one was set up. This went on for months and included messages being sent to work colleagues and family members, effectively ‘outing’ Trevor and causing the breakdown of a number of family and working relationships. Trevor had no idea who was targeting him.
Trevor found he was constantly checking for messages and became extremely anxious about who was doing this and what they would do next. He was very distressed that people got to know about his sexual orientation in a way he hadn’t intended and worried if they would believe the things in the messages. Trevor’s ability to work was greatly impaired, he was prescribed anti-depressants, and took sick leave from work.
Outcome: Eventually a colleague at work disclosed that they’d heard another colleague bragging that they were sending the messages. Trevor went to his manager for support who confronted the colleague. Following an investigation by the employer, evidence was found to prove it was the work colleague, who was dismissed. Trevor felt supported by his employer.