‘LGBTQphobias are dangerous’: International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia opens conversation about acceptance

'LGBTQphobias are dangerous': International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia opens conversation about acceptance
A file photo from the 2022 Victoria Pride Parade.

On the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, a non-profit organization is using the day to remind people that while normal phobias can be harmless, LGBTQphobia is not.

Fondation Émergence, a Montreal-based non-profit fighting for LGBTQ+ rights, has launched a campaign to acknowledge the harm that LGBTQphobias can cause.

“LGBTQ+ people are not a danger to anyone,” said Olivia Baker, program manager with the group. “LGBTQphobias are dangerous for people, and the people who suffer the most from LGBTQphobias are the LGBTQ+ people who are victim from those kinds of erasure or harassment.”

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LGBTQphobias are defined as negative attitudes, actions or words towards sexually and gender-diverse people.

Fondation Émergence and Leger conducted a survey of people in Canada to look at Canadian’s feelings towards LGBTQ+ people.

Baker says three stats in the report stood out for her.

The first was the number of people who said they didn’t care or didn’t understand the importance of LGBTQ+ issues. In Canada, 40 per cent said they are indifferent or don’t understand the importance of being for or against it. In B.C., the number who don’t understand is 37 per cent.

The second is the number of people who feel we as a society talk too much about LGBTQ+ people. In Canada, 55 per cent of people responded they think we talk too much about it, and 53 per cent in B.C.

Thirty-four per cent responded they think we talk about it just enough, and 10 per cent not enough in Canada, compared to 39 per cent and eight per cent, respectively.

“Which is not really surprising, but a bit frustrating, because when we look at the amount of LGBTQ+ characters in media right now, yes, it is more than before, but it’s just only getting to be representative, and not even,” Baker said.

“Because although there are more LGBTQ+ characters around, they’re generally the gay best friend or like a secondary role, and there’s not a lot of main characters who are LGBTQ+.”

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The last stat that stood out was that one in five Canadian men feels very uncomfortable seeing a gay couple kiss.

“I feel like that still shows a lot about where we are in society right now,” Baker said. “Yes, there’s more tolerance, and we are further along on the fight for equal rights, but people are still uncomfortable, and so that’s something we still need to work on.”

Baker says the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia is a way to remind people of the importance of working towards inclusion for LGBTQ+ people.

“It’s just to give it more information on the subject, and as a call to action to encourage people to first learn more about LGBT plus people, but also to take little actions on their own levels,” Baker said.

Fondation Émergence has set up a website where people can learn more about LGBTQphobias, take a quiz to check your knowledge of LGBTQ+ issues, and sign a petition to have the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia recognized by the United Nations.

Some key stats from the Leger and Fondation Émergence survey:

Laura BroughamLaura Brougham

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