Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education



Front Page

World

UK

UK Politics

Business

Sci/Tech

Health

Education

Sport

Entertainment

Talking Point

In Depth

On Air

Archive
Feedback
Low Graphics
Help

Friday, September 3, 1999 Published at 02:06 GMT 03:06 UK


Health

Campaign targets homophobia

The campaign aims to tackle prejudice head on

Homophobia has a huge impact on mental health and can prevent people seeking the healthcare they need, according to an Aids charity.

The Terrence Higgins Trust (THT) is launching what it claims is Europe's first national anti-homophobia campaign on Friday.

The hard-hitting campaign, which will target teachers, parents and the public through a series of advertisements in the media, on public transport and in the cinema, aims to raise awareness about the negative effects of homophobia.

The adverts turn prejudice on its head with statements such as 'homophobes shouldn't be left alone with kids'.

Prejudice

THT says research shows two thirds of British adults hold homophobic views, with men more likely to be prejudiced than women.

Two fifths are reported to believe that gay people should not be able to hold a responsible position in life and a quarter think they should not be allowed to work with children.

Much of the prejudice starts at school, says the THT.

Some 82% of teachers interviewed by the Institute of Education in 1997 said they were aware of homophobic bullying at school.

However, few schools have a policy on it and many teachers are reluctant to take positive action because they are unclear of the implications of Section 28, introduced by the Conservatives to curb 'promotion' of homosexuality.

The Section, however, states that the restrictions should not be used "to prohibit the doing of anything for the purpose of preventing the spread of disease".

The THT says homophobia can also lower self-esteem, leading to risk-taking behaviour and preventing effective HIV promotion work.

It adds that prejudice has other damaging effects on mental health.

Research shows one in five gay people have attempted self-harm or suicide because of homophobic abuse.

Violence

The 'Its Prejudice That's Queer' campaign will also draw attention to research showing that one in three gay men and one in four lesbians have experienced violent attacks.

Seven out of 10 had not reported attacks to the police.

Young gay people were even more likely to have suffered aggression.

Nick Partridge, chief executive of the THT, said: "Homophobia is a serious, widespread problem which must be tackled.

"The consequences are as far-reaching as they are damaging.

"Homophobia harms the health of gay people physically, mentally and emotionally.

"In particular, it can affect their confidence and ability to negotiate safer sex which is a key concern in preventing the spread of HIV."

Debbie Epstein, Reader in Education at the Institute of Education at the University of London, said: "Homophobic abuse is often used as a form of bullying in schools. Children are not born homophobic, these attitudes are learnt.

"By challenging such attitudes in schools, we can ensure that pupils learn that homophobia, like all forms of prejudice or discrimination, is wrong and unacceptable."

The Metropolitan Police are supporting the campaign. They say there has been a big increase in reporting of homophobic crime in recent years, partly due to attempts by the police to encourage victims to come forward.



Advanced options | Search tips




Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage | ©


Health Contents

Background Briefings
Medical notes

Relevant Stories

23 Aug 99 | Aids
Baby in HIV court struggle

25 Aug 99 | Aids
Babies risk HIV from breast milk

01 Jun 99 | Aids
Aids drug hailed as 'major advance'





Internet Links


Terrence Higgins Trust

Samaritans

Stonewall


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.




In this section

Disability in depth

Spotlight: Bristol inquiry

Antibiotics: A fading wonder

Mental health: An overview

Alternative medicine: A growth industry

The meningitis files

Long-term care: A special report

Aids up close

From cradle to grave

NHS reforms: A guide

NHS Performance 1999

From Special Report
NHS in crisis: Special report

British Medical Association conference '99

Royal College of Nursing conference '99