Publication Details

Smith, I., Oades, L. G. & McCarthy, G. (2012). Homophobia to heterosexism: constructs in need of re-visitation. Gay and Lesbian issues and Psychology Review, 8 (1), 34-44.


Although the concept of homophobia has been used extensively in the literature since the early 1960s, researchers have shown growing concern for its relevance in present day research. Additionally, there has been variance in its definition leading to an array of ambiguities resulting in methodological limitations in empirical studies with a disregard for ensuring that definitions used match the focus of study. There have been numerous attempts to locate the construct within a theoretical framework and this has also resulted in weak empirical design. These weaknesses in research on homophobia have resulted in the coining of the construct heterosexism as a more contemporary and more appropriate definition than that of homophobia to indicate anti-gay discrimination. This review considers both terms with regard to their appropriateness and distinction and the utility of the construct heterosexism as it is applied to contemporary research on non-heterosexual communities. It is concluded that homophobia can no longer be framed as a straightforward function of individual psyches or irrational fear and loathing and that heterosexism is more appropriate in defining prejudiced behaviours and their consequences for non-heterosexual communities.

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