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.

Challenging derogatory online content

Content across all forms of media that can be accessed online can be harmful, abusive and discriminatory to LGB people. Some of this is directly threatening to individuals and is illegal Click here to go to the Using the law page on this website.  

 

Some of this derogatory content falls outside the protection of the law but reinforces inequality and creates a hostile social climate. Even if it’s not unlawful, you can still do something about it.

 

Take Action: Report, Complain, Campaign.  

Go to the to Taking Action page for information about how report, complain and campaign against derogatory, homophobic and biphobic online content.

Privacy and outing without consent

Creating online spaces free from abuse and discrimination, and responding to abuse, is important. People have a right to control who knows about their identity and a right not to be subject to abuse because of who they are.

 

Despite attitudes towards LGB people having changed over the years, as has the law, LGB people can still face negative consequences by being outed without their consent. Intimidation, blackmail, and threats to out someone are abusive.

 

LGB people have the right to decide who knows about their sexual orientation and if, when or how they choose to come out. Outing someone without their consent is wrong and may be an element of unlawful harassment.

 

Go to the Taking Action page for ideas about what you can do to stop online abuse.

Blackmail and defamation

Today, some LGB people can still be at risk of violence, abuse and inequality if others find out about their sexual orientation. The threat of being outed online or of personal information about relationships and sexual behaviour can be used to control and blackmail LGB people, which is abusive. If this is happening to you, speak up and get help from an LGBT organisation or sympathetic expert support agency.

Galop

LGBT Consortium

Broken Rainbow

LLGS

 

See also the advice on the Taking Action page.

Dating

Gay, lesbian and bi people often use dating sites and apps to meet others for sex and relationships. There is a wide range of internet sites and mobile apps to facilitate this.

 

If someone is abusive to you on a dating site, contact the provider of the app to report the abuse, as it may contravene the terms and conditions of use. Gather as much information as you can about the abusive user, for example by taking a screenshot of their profile. The most well-known sites have well-established advice online about how to report any abusive behaviour by other users. Smaller apps may not have such useful advice and it may be helpful to talk to an expert LGBT organisation for advice or directly to the police.

 

Some people may also experience a link between online abuse and face-to-face violence and abuse but feel less able to get help because they fear others knowing about how they’ve been meeting people for sex, and who with. No one should experience or put up with violence or abuse, online or face-to-face, because they are worried about disclosing their sexual orientation or sexual behaviour. If this is happening to you, talk it over in confidence with a specialist organisation who can give information, advice and advocacy to help make it stop.

 

There are many dating apps, so search the site of the one you use for help. Some of the well-known apps that have ‘report-it’ features are:

 

Grindr for gay and bi men

Diva Date and Pink Sofa for lesbian and bi women 

 

Useful independent organisations:

Stalking Helpline

Women's Aid

Galop

Why equality matters

Women and LGBT communities can be targeted and discriminated against just for who they are. This background of discrimination and inequality influences online abuse. Sexism, homophobia, biphobia and transphobia exist online, as do racism and prejudice based on age, disability and religion, all of which are also experienced by women and LGBT people.

 

Abusers often use this prejudice to fuel their actions and 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. Individuals need good information and appropriate support to stop abuse, including reporting it to the police and taking legal action against abusive people.

 

Many people want to take action to stop and prevent sexist, homophobic, biphobic and transphobic stereotypes and abuse online. We all have the chance to be part of a movement for change, standing up for ourselves and others against harassment and abuse. This website is about empowering people with information and assistance to identify, challenge and change online abuse, for the benefit of all women and LGBT people.

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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 www.dellagracevolcano.com

Case Study

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.