Some straight men would hate lesbians

Even today: exclusion, discrimination and violence

Effects of Discrimination and Violence
Prejudices and clichés
The legal situation
The General Equal Treatment Act (AGG)

Exclusion, discrimination and violence are still commonplace experiences for lesbians and gays today. There are many forms of homophobia that lesbians and gays are confronted with. From verbal devaluation to experiencing physical violence, from legal disadvantage to social exclusion.
However, this fact is now largely ignored by society, dealing with these phenomena arouses resistance and resistance or incomprehension. However, the personal consequences for those affected can be severe and destructive.

Although there is undeniably a change in society as a whole to open up to same-sex lifestyles, the lives of individuals are still often characterized by discrimination and violence. It must be taken into account here that the effects of centuries of persecution cannot be eliminated in a few decades - neither on those affected nor on the minds of the heterosexual population.

A comparison of the age groups showed that these experiences are no less common among younger people than among older people. This refutes the assumption that the living situation of lesbians and gays has improved significantly in terms of disadvantage and discrimination.
These results are confirmed in similar studies from other cities and federal states.

Effects of Discrimination and Violence

Experiencing discrimination, stigmatization and violence on the basis of sexual identity affects very sensitive areas of the personality of those affected. Experiencing a recurring devaluation of one's own identity can lead to negative images being internalized and thus a process of self-devaluation being set in motion. These self-doubts can lead to deep feelings of shame, fear, and social withdrawal. This also explains why affected lesbians and gays often do not defend themselves against discriminatory behavior or attacks.

Such deep-seated insecurities can also lead to those affected foregoing the use of everyday rights and services, because renewed discrimination is feared, especially during the use.
For many, it is difficult to imagine contacting a manager and complaining about exclusion in the company if this manager has made gay or lesbian-hostile jokes in the past or laughed heartily with them in such situations.
Again and again, those affected report that they are more likely to change jobs or try other ways to escape stressful situations.

A survey of lesbians and gays in Munich about their living situation showed that they were extremely affected by discrimination and violence based on their own homosexuality:

  • More than 80% of the lesbians and gays surveyed said they had such experience.
  • 61% of gays and lesbians alike have experienced insults and scorn.
  • 21% of gays and 12% of lesbians are victims of physical violence.
  • Mental pressure in the form of intimidation, threats and psychological terror was experienced by 40% of lesbians and gays.
  • 32% of gays and 40% of lesbians experienced rejection from their families.
  • 43% of gays and 50% of lesbians had negative experiences in their circle of friends.
  • The world of work seems to be particularly difficult: 15% of gays and 17% of lesbians have had negative experiences with colleagues because of their homosexuality, around 21% each experienced this in contact with their employer. Disadvantages in professional development (promotion, etc.) experienced 27% and 31% respectively.
  • Sexual harassment in the workplace was experienced by 14% of gays - a number that is very high given that men are typically less likely to be victims of sexual harassment. Almost 21% of lesbians have been sexually harassed, which confirms that women are still increasingly hurt by sexual violence.
  • 60% of the respondents have experienced situations in which they were very afraid of being recognized as homosexual.

Study: City of Munich, “Under the Rainbow - Lesbians and Gays in Munich”, Munich 2004

Even the fear of negative consequences can have serious consequences for behavior in public. The individual feeling of belonging and integrity is impaired. Many gays and lesbians therefore forego the free development of their personality in various areas of life and withdraw into invisibility. In some situations it is even essential to protect yourself in order not to fall victim to violent attacks. For example, lesbians and gays usually know very well in which districts they should never walk hand in hand or observe their surroundings very closely in order to avoid difficult situations.

Lesbians and gays often experience that they are accused of careless behavior when they report experiences of discrimination. They are often held responsible for these experiences themselves, on the grounds that it would not have happened had they not made themselves known. In this way, the victims are given at least part of the blame, the perpetrators of violence and exclusion are automatically relieved. This is a complete reversal of the obligations.

Precisely because they work in very intimate areas of the personality such as sexual identity, exclusion and violence represent enormous psychological stress, which lesbians and gays have to develop special coping strategies to deal with. One approach is to avoid further difficult situations, which, however, can lead to a considerable impairment of the quality of life because many restrictions are connected with it. Life situation and stress research has shown that there are other ways of compensating for experiences of social discrimination. The integration into a network of "equals", that is, of people who are in similar life contexts, the development of sustainable social relationships and thus the strengthening of self-esteem are such possibilities.

Homophobia / homophobia

The term “phobia” comes from the Greek and means fear. So homophobia means something like "fear of homosexuality". Above all, it denotes devaluations, aggression and feelings of hatred against lesbians and gays. The term hostility to homosexuals would therefore be more appropriate (analogous to xenophobia). There are many reasons for homophobic attitudes:
Fear of the stranger and that which does not conform to the general norm can be a cause of discrimination and violence against gays and lesbians. Homosexuality is often perceived as a threat to the core social identity of heterosexuality and must therefore be averted.
Your own inner parts, your own feelings of being drawn to the same sex, which are suppressed and fought against, can trigger homophobia and thus become a reason for violence against lesbians and gays. Other causes can often be found in ideological and religious attitudes or in their own difficult life situations and the associated self-esteem problems of homophobic people.

Internalized homophobia
Growing up in a society that focuses on heterosexual life contexts (heterocentrism) conveys negative images of lesbians and gays very early on. Almost all children and adolescents have an inkling that turning to one's own gender is something undesirable. This feeling is often conveyed non-verbally, through the lack of positive representations of gay and lesbian life in public and through the experience of homophobic situations. Not being “normal” is often subject to sanctions such as exclusion or ridicule, which has a reinforcing effect on existing negative inner images.

Children and young people who later come out as lesbians or gays also have this experience. One consequence of this can be that those affected have internalized these caricature images of lesbians and gays themselves and reject homosexuality to a greater or lesser extent. This is called internalized or internalized homophobia.
Internalized homophobia results in self-devaluation or in devaluation of other lesbians and gays. It can lead to the fact that one's own sexual identity cannot be positively accepted and prevent a happy lesbian or gay life. A complex emotional state can arise, ranging from shame, fear, self-doubt to self-devaluation, which often prevents those affected from getting help and support.

Dealing with one's own internalized homophobia is a strenuous process that often takes years. It becomes more difficult when the internalized homophobia is refreshed by experiencing renewed devaluations.

Prejudices and clichés

In our society there is a wide range of attributions and prejudices that identify gays and lesbians with negative traits and associate them with pathological or even criminal behavior. Often these images are already known to children, they are omnipresent among young people and even people with a high level of education often believe in clichéd images of lesbians and gays. These attributions are transported through jokes, swear words, rumors and publications in the media. The swear word “gay”, which is mostly used in school playgrounds, is used to cover everything that is not popular or desired. Especially in the media, too, stereotypes of lesbians and gays are still often spread for general amusement: the bitter, ugly lesbian who murders or is particularly mean; the tastelessly dressed, feminine-looking, not to be taken seriously gay, portrayed as a fagot and ridiculed.

The prejudices listed here are repeatedly used against homosexuals. The effects of these completely misguided ideas can be fatal for those affected.
"Gays seduce little boys"
This attribution, which is often found, serves to bring gay men close to criminal practices and to subject them to social contempt. However, it has nothing to do with the reality of gay love. There is no connection between male homosexuality and pedophilia. Like straight men, gays seek equal partners.
"Gays all get AIDS"
At the beginning of the so-called “AIDS crisis” in the 1980s, this infectious disease was used for massive inhuman campaigns against gays, which were even referred to as “epidemic throwers”. HIV / AIDS is an infectious disease and can affect anyone - regardless of their sexual identity.
"Lesbians Hate Men"
Rejective attitudes towards men are no reason for a lesbian identity development; lesbians love women and are therefore lesbian. There is no connection here with attitudes towards the male gender. These attitudes are as different among lesbians as there are different women.
"Lesbians only need a real guy"
This ascription devalues ​​lesbian women because it writes them off an independent and valuable identity. This attribution is dangerous because it is sometimes used to justify sexual harassment or violence.
"Lesbians are ugly"
This malicious but widespread attribution is also intended to justify the fact that a lesbian identity only exists because no man is interested in these women.
"Gays are not real men, lesbians are not real women"
Images of masculinity and femininity are usually based on heterosexual norms about what is right and what is not. In fact, however, masculinity or femininity and the associated individual feelings depend on many individual processes and the development of one's own standards. There is therefore no such thing as a fixed “really masculine” or “really feminine”.
The denial of the "rightness" actually hits lesbians and gays at the core, since they are denied appreciation and belonging at the same time.
"Gay sex is perverse, lesbian sex is not real sex"
Statements about sexual behavior are used to devalue gay men and lesbian women. However, gays and lesbians shape their sexuality just as diverse and different as heterosexual people.

Prejudices can often be broken down less through arguments than through confrontation with reality, since the essence of prejudices is precisely the unobjective distortion of reality. Increased information, education about same-sex lifestyles and, above all, personal encounters can help reduce discrimination and violence against lesbians and gays.

The legal situation

Lesbians and gays are, of course, protected against violent attacks just like all other people by law. Violence against lesbians and gays is a criminal offense.

In the discussion about an anti-discrimination law, however, there was also clear resistance to the legal protection of certain population groups from disadvantage. The implementation of the principle of equality from the Basic Law is often not easy in everyday reality. Even with the introduction of the new General Equal Treatment Act (AGG), lesbians and gays are only covered in certain situations. In principle, a law does not protect against experiencing social discrimination, but it is indispensable in order to be able to claim equal rights, at least legally.
The legal situation of registered life partners, for example, is absurd, however: on the one hand, the law contributes to equality with marriage, on the other hand, it also contains massive disadvantages such as tax regulations or survivors' pensions.

The General Equal Treatment Act (AGG)

When the AGG came into force in August 2006, a standard for describing discrimination was created. The aim of this law is to prevent or eliminate discrimination based on certain characteristics. The explicit naming of sexual identity as a characteristic is very important because for the first time there is a clear legal basis that those affected can refer to if they are discriminated against on the basis of their sexual identity. The definitions of the European Union, which were included in the German law on general equal treatment, give clear definitions for various forms of discrimination. They differentiate between direct and indirect disadvantage, harassment and sexual harassment.

Immediate disadvantage occurs when one person receives less favorable treatment than another person in a comparable situation.

Indirect disadvantage is given if apparently neutral regulations, criteria or procedures put people at a particular disadvantage compared to other people.

harassment is a disadvantage when undesirable behavior offends the dignity of the person concerned or when a climate of intimidation, hostility, humiliation, etc. is created.

Sexual harassment occurs when undesirable sexual behavior (actions, requests, touching, comments, pornographic representations) violates the dignity of the person concerned.