Lesbophobia (sometimes lesbiphobia) comprises various forms of negativity toward lesbians as individuals, as couples, or as a social group. Based on the categories of sex or biological gender, sexual orientation, lesbian identity, and gender expression, this negativity encompasses prejudice, discrimination, and abuse, in addition to attitudes and feelings ranging from disdain to hostility. As such, lesbophobia is sexism against women that intersects with homophobia and vice versa.

Related terminology

While some people use only the more general term homophobia to describe this sort of prejudice or behavior, others believe that the terms homosexual and homophobia do not adequately reflect the specific concerns of lesbians, because they experience the double discrimination of both homophobia and sexism.[1][2] Similarly, bisexual women may prefer to use the term biphobia to refer to prejudice or abuse that they encounter which is based on their bisexual identity or behaviour, and people who identify as transgender often prefer to use the word transphobia.

Extent of lesbophobia

The idea that lesbians are dangerous—while heterosexual interactions are natural, normal, and spontaneous—is a common example of beliefs which are lesbophobic. Like homophobia, this belief is classed as heteronormative, as it assumes that heterosexuality is dominant, presumed, and normal, and that other sexual or relationship arrangements are abnormal and unnatural.[3] A stereotype that has been identified as lesbophobic is that female athletes are always or predominantly lesbians.[4][5] Lesbians encounter lesbophobic attitudes not only in straight men and women, but from gay men, as well as bisexual people.[6] Lesbophobia in gay men is regarded as manifest in the perceived subordination of lesbian issues in the campaign for gay rights.[7]

Lesbophobic violence

Soweto Pride 2012 participants remember two lesbians who were raped and murdered in 2007.

Lesbophobia is sometimes demonstrated through crimes of violence, including corrective rape and even murder. In South Africa, Sizakele Sigasa (a lesbian activist living in Soweto) and her partner Salome Masooa were raped, tortured, and murdered in July 2007 in an attack that South African lesbian-gay rights organizations, including the umbrella-group Joint Working Group, said were driven by lesbophobia.[8] Two other rape/murders of lesbians occurred in South Africa earlier in summer 2007: Simangele Nhlapo, member of an HIV-positive support group, was raped and murdered in June, along with her two-year-old daughter; and Madoe Mafubedu, aged 16, was raped and stabbed to death.[9]

In 2006, Zoliswa Nkonyana, aged 19, was killed for being openly lesbian by 4 men in the Cape Town township of Khayelitsha, who stabbed and stoned her to death.[10] Banyana Banyana soccer player Eudy Simelane and LGBT activist Noxolo Nogwaza were raped and murdered in the Gauteng township of KwaThema.[11][12] Zanele Muholi, community relations director of a lesbian rights group, reports having recorded 50 rape cases over the past decade involving black lesbians in townships, stating: "The problem is largely that of patriarchy. The men who perpetrate such crimes see rape as curative and as an attempt to show women their place in society."[13][14][15]

Everyday Lesbophobia

Jane Czyzselska, the editor of British lesbian magazine Diva, launched a social media campaign called Everyday Lesbophobia in 2013.[2] She told PinkNews in July 2013: "Like the brilliant" Everyday Sexism Project, "our Everyday Lesbophobia campaign has been set up to document instances of prejudice from serious abuse to casual put downs that have become so commonplace that we often don't feel able to protest about them." Everyday Lesbophobia includes a blog, Facebook page, and Twitter account.[16]

See also


  1. "What is "Lesbophobia"?". ILGA. 18 December 2006. Archived from the original on 20 February 2012. Retrieved 7 August 2007.
  2. 1 2 Czyzselska, Jane (9 July 2013). "Lesbophobia is homophobia with a side-order of sexism". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 February 2016.
  3. Jillian Todd Weiss, "The Gender Caste System – Identity, Privacy, and Heteronormativity" 10 Law & Sexuality 123 (Tulane Law School, 2001)
  4. Peper, Karen, "Female athlete=Lesbian: a complex myth constructed from gender role expectations and lesbiphobia", Queer words, queer images: communications and the construction of homosexuality, pages 193–208 (New York University Press, 1994)
  5. Darcy Plymire and Pamela Forman, "Breaking the Silence: Lesbian Fans, the Internet, and the Sexual Politics of Women's Sport", International Journal of Sexuality and Gender Studies, pages 1566–1768 (Springer Netherlands, April 2000)
  6. Megan Radclyffe, Lesbophobia!: Gay Men and Misogyny (Continuum, October 2005)
  7. Kristen Raizada, "An Interview with the Guerrilla Girls, Dyke Action Machine (DAM!), and the Toxic Titties", NWSA Journal, pages 39–58 (Volume 19, Number 1, Spring 2007)
  8. Ndaba, Baldwin. "'Hate crime' against lesbians slated". IOL News. Archived from the original on 30 June 2014. Retrieved 22 December 2013.
  9. Pithouse, Richard. "Only Protected on Paper". The South African Civil Society Information Service. Archived from the original on 30 June 2014. Retrieved 22 December 2013.
  10. "Lesbian killers in South Africa get 18-year jail terms". BBC News. Archived from the original on 30 June 2014. Retrieved 22 December 2013.
  11. Kelly, Annie. "Raped and killed for being a lesbian: South Africa ignores 'corrective' attacks". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 30 June 2014. Retrieved 22 December 2013.
  12. "South Africa killing of lesbian Nogwaza 'a hate crime'". BBC News. 3 May 2011. Archived from the original on 28 November 2012. Retrieved 28 November 2012.
  13. Bridgland, Fred (14 July 2007). "Lesbian couple killed in execution-style murder: Hate crimes increase despite equal rights law". Sunday Herald. Retrieved 11 August 2007.
  14. Cogswell, Kelly Jean (26 July 2007). "Cut It Off – And Stop AIDS". Gay City News. Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 11 August 2007.
  15. "S. Africa gangs using rape to 'cure' lesbians". MSN. 13 March 2009. Archived from the original on 15 March 2009.
  16. Roberts, Scott (10 July 2013). "Diva magazine launches campaign against 'lesbophobia'". Pink News. Retrieved 26 January 2016.
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