Homophobia is a hate crime

HOMOPHOBIA IS often considered an acceptable prejudice.

Kids, as well as a lot of grown-ups, still use offensive terms such as “fag” and “homo” to insult people they dislike or consider odd or effeminate.

“Nudge-nudge, wink-wink” jokes about being gay are still regular elements of mainstream television and movies. It’s even been suggested that homophobia is a “family values” prejudice.

In an era when no thinking person would consider making a racial slur and ethnic bigotry is all but banished from the media, why are anti-gay comments still so widespread?

Not so long ago, it was revealed that homophobia in Northern Ireland is rife with more than 8 out of 10 gay people in the region having suffered verbal or physical harassment.

A report revealed that more than half had also been the victim of violence - including a number of homophobic murders.

According to the study, “homophobia and discrimination against lesbian, gay and bisexual people is still regarded as normal and justifiable by many in Northern Ireland, while for many it is still a respectable and acceptable prejudice.”

It is totally unacceptable that gay, lesbian and bisexual people should be discriminated against in any way or be the subject of intimidation or violence.

Homophobic crimes strike at people’s right to feel safe and secure.

To abuse or attack someone because of their sexual orientation and gender identity is a hate crime which cannot be tolerated.

It is obvious that much work remains to be done in terms of educating people and combating this intolerable brand of discrimination.