Homophobia is the dislike of, or to some degree, fear for homosexuals.
A study commissioned by beyondblue (an Australian independent non-profit organization working to address issues associated with depression, anxiety disorders and related mental disorders) showed high incidence of homophobia among male teenagers and that in effect are harming the mental health of young gay people and putting them at risk of suicide.
According to it, one-third of boys aged 14 to 17 would not be happy to have a same-sex attracted person in their friendship group and one in five found it hard to treat a gay person the same way he treat others.
Moreover, 40% agreed they felt “anxious” or “uncomfortable” around same-sex attracted people, while 30% said derogatory terms such as “homo” and “dyke” are “not really that bad”.
Jeff Kennett, chairman of beyondblue, told Radio National that the results were disturbing. He said, “Over half of those we surveyed have witnessed first hand, people being bullied for their sexuality. Over half – now that’s of concern. And just under half said that they’d seen people bullied for the same reason on social media.”
Further on, he said, “That rings alarm bells for me because not only have we had deaths among young people who’ve been bullied on social media, we’ve had copycat deaths among young people.”
A gay mother, Pamela Garske, said that the findings are absolutely horrifying. She also said that her son had struggled with his sexuality his entire life and been severely bullied at high school 20 years ago. And that her son suffered mercilessly from depression and anxiety that’s why, he’s still living with them until now even if he’s already 40.
Judy Brown, NSW president of Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG), said that community leaders are also partly to be blamed for the intolerant attitudes because many of these influential figures are also not in favor of granting full rights to gay people.
In addition, Brown said, “And also, often the hierarchy of the mainstream churches are also very outspoken about gay people. And I think that probably has a lot to do with attitudes of those in society.”
The findings also suggested that young males have more homophobic attitudes than the general public.
Because of these findings, the group PFLAG have prompted to launch a campaign to end lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) discrimination among teenagers, males in particular.
But beyondblue chairman, Jeff Kennett, has only this to say, “Sadly the LGBTI community perhaps suffers more serious depression, mental illnesses and suicide as a group than any other community in Australia.”