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Quantifying the Effects of Homophobia

Author: Dominic Bocci, Associate Director, Studies Grant Management
May 5, 2014
The Advocate

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The rise of antigay laws around the world has focused international media attention on the dramatic and often violent effects of homophobia. With reports of harassment, arrests, and the targeted killing of lesbian, gay, transgender, and bisexual people, the direct consequences of these laws have been made horrifically clear.

While world leaders, including United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, increasingly condemn these pieces of legislation, few have spoken on the issue outside of a human rights or moral framework. This moral positioning has prompted other leaders to defend their antigay laws on the basis of sovereignty and cultural values, fueling a culture war that has proven largely ineffective at convincing governments to repeal these laws.
Recent academic studies are using new sources and methodologies to push past moral arguments about homosexuality to show that forms of structural stigma — antigay cultural norms and laws that target sexual minorities — may have widespread, systemic effects on society that aren't always apparent at first glance. These studies show that homophobia may significantly stunt economic growth, and may even be harmful to your health.

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