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Time to fight anti-gay bigotry on the web

Time to fight anti-gay bigotry on the web

BURNABY—Cyberbullying is the target of this year’s International Day Against Homophobia.

Held on May 17 every year, the International Day Against Homophobia is a rallying event that offers a chance for people to get together, reach out to one another and raise awareness about the insidious influence of homophobia in our society. The day is also aimed at encouraging organizations and individuals to highlight this event in their working environments.

This year’s theme, Fight the Homophobia Web Virus, targets a mostly anonymous form of abuse, cyberhomophobia. Homophobia is becoming increasingly prevalent on the Web and in social media. The anonymity of the Internet facilitates the spread of abusive comments and cyberhomophobia that could have serious consequences. In recent years, an increasing number of gay teen suicides have been linked to this phenomenon.

Cyberhomophobia is the manifestation of homophobia on the Internet and in social media. It is the circulation of negative attitudes towards homosexuality and gender identity. It often presents sexual minorities as inferior or abnormal and can be expressed in the form of jokes, teasing, hateful or hostile remarks, denigration and stereotypes toward homosexual or transsexual persons. Certain words and expressions can hurt people, even without intending to, such as “fag”, “so gay”, “lesbo”, “butch”, “dyke”, “homo”, etc.

“Bullying and harassment are nothing new. But unfortunately, anonymity allows bigotry to flourish on the Web,” says CUPE BC president Mark Hancock. “If social media such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter are amazing tools, they can also be ruthless. Using them repeatedly against someone can constitute real bullying and victimization. We need to do everything we can to stop cyberhomophobic bullying.”

Homophobic remarks on the Internet and in social media should not go unnoticed. It is important to:

• Report unwanted content to website administrators and encourage your friends to do the same;

• Report homophobic content to the website host;

Denounce the content in the Acts of Homophobia Registry.

For more information, visit http://www.homophobiaday.org/.

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