Homophobia, literally "the fear of homosexuals and homosexuality", is the term commonly used to describe an attitude of dislike for individuals who have romantic relationships with other individuals of the same sex. Though discrimination based on sexual orientation is illegal in the United Kingdom many private citizens still harbour thoughts and attitudes of homophobia. To find out more about what homophobia actually is take a look at this article.
Today there is much that can be done to confront homophobia. Confronting an individual (when it is safe to do so), reporting discrimination and educating others are all steps that anyone can take to help confront homophobia.
Confronting an IndividualMany individuals will make discriminatory remarks or jokes about others' sexual preferences because they are uncomfortable with different sexualities. Unfortunately these individuals often feel free to share their views with little regard for the thoughts and feelings of others. If it is safe to do so, confront such individuals with a short, no-nonsense approach such as by saying (with disgust) "I can't believe you just said that" or "What a disgusting sentiment". This quick reminder that not everyone feels the same way may be enough to turn the conversation, and it may be enough for others to vocally support your statement.
Whether or not you convince anyone, however, it is often best to leave a conversation after making your point. Not only will this help keep you safe from verbal or physical retaliation but it will help you make the point that you want nothing more to do with that individual.
Reporting DiscriminationIf you see discrimination taking place, or if you are experiencing discrimination, let others know that you are aware of what is happening. This is often enough to stop the discriminatory practices. If it is not then leaving the immediate location and reporting the discriminatory practice is usually the safest option. The Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2003, as amended in 2007, protects individuals from being discriminated against in employment and vocational training due to their sexual orientation. If it is believed that this Act has been breached then going to court is one way of reporting and hopefully ending homophobic practices.
Reporting homophobia to local authorities is another method of calling attention to inappropriate practices, particularly if homophobia is experienced while receiving health or social care. The police are actively stamping down on homophobic behaviour, and you can report any homophobic abuse on their report-it website here.
Finally, reporting homophobia to organisations working for gay rights may also help to eradicate such behaviours.
Educating OthersThough it is not right, it is often left up to the individuals who recognise discrimination such as homophobia to educate others about why these practices are inappropriate. Often educating others about sexuality, homosexuality and sexual orientations is the first step in this process since it allows others to see that people of all sexual orientations are vibrant and have much to offer. If this is not enough to stop homophobia then educating others about the law and the consequences of discrimination - particularly if it pertains to their freedom or livelihood - may get them to stop their discriminatory thoughts or practices. If not, reporting discrimination and getting authorities involved will hopefully cause homophobic practices to cease even if it might not change the perpetrator's attitudes.
Discrimination due to sexual orientation is both inappropriate and illegal, but sadly it does still occur. Confronting individuals about their thoughts and actions, reporting discrimination and educating others about ageism are all ways to confront homophobia when it does occur.