Homophobia is increasing among young people in the UK – and online hate is to blame

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Online hate may be fuelling the rise in homophobia among young people. (Matthew Horwood/Getty Images)

A new report has shown that homophobia is on the rise among young people, with one in four 18-24 year olds believing being LGBT+ is “immoral or against their beliefs”, higher than any other age group.

According to the Hate Crime Report 2019, by LGBT+ anti-violence charity Galop, young people are showing increasingly polarised views about LGBT+ people.

For example, the 18-24 age group was the mostly likely (9 per cent) to “strongly agree” that LGBT+ people could be “cured”, by they were also the most likely to “strongly disagree”, with the fewest respondents on the fence.

Young people were also most likely to think that LGBT+ people were “dangerous” to others.

Researchers said that the increase in homophobia among young people was contrasted with 18-24 year olds being “less likely to think that their views should warrant intervention in the lives of LGBT+ people than older age groups”.

A vast majority of young respondents said LGBT+ people should be able to “live as they wish”, higher than any other age group, with 91 per cent agreeing for gay men and lesbians, 94 per cent agreeing for bisexual people, and 87 per cent agreeing for trans people.

homophobia rises in young people
18 – 24 year olds are most likely to think that LGBT+ people are “immoral”, as homophobia increases among young people. (Robert Perry/Getty)

Researchers said this contrast “perhaps reflects a combination of the influence of the rise of anti-LGBT+ rhetoric globally, combined with the influence of neoliberal ideology, which promotes individualism.

“It may also be connected to the influence of a growing number of siloed online communities of hate, which exist with different social norms to mainstream society, running counter to inclusion and tolerance.”

The report was published the same day that new hate crime figures were released by the Home Office, showing that hate crimes against trans people have risen 37 per cent in just one year, and there has been a 25 per cent rise is hate crimes based on sexual orientation.

Nick Antjoule, Galop’s head of hate crime services, said: “At Galop we’ve seen a stark increase in the severity and scale of anti-LGBT violence and abuse over the past few years.

“This appears to be a symptom of emergent anti-LGBT attitudes and social division across society… Our research shows the journey toward LGBT+ equality is far from over.

“Despite most people in this UK poll voicing support for LGBT+ people; a significant proportion still think we are dangerous, immoral or that we can be ‘cured’.

“It offers a sobering reminder that progress achieved in recent decades can easily be reversed.

“Young people polled tended to hold more negative views toward LGBT+ people than other age groups.

“This alarming finding warns of a generational pivot ahead and a bumpy road for those of us committed to challenging anti-LGBT violence and abuse.”

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