News reporters told not to use word ‘homophobia’

Fri, 30 Nov 2012

Journalists working for the Associated Press have been warned not to use the word ‘homophobia’ in their reports because it is inaccurate.

It is wrong to assume that someone is suffering from a ‘phobia’ just because they disagree with homosexuality, new rules suggest.

The style guide for Associated Press (AP) reporters has been updated to say: “-phobia,” “an irrational, uncontrollable fear, often a form of mental illness” should not be used “in political or social contexts,” including “homophobia”.

Inaccurate

AP Deputy Standards Editor, Dave Minthorn, said: “Homophobia especially — it’s just off the mark. It’s ascribing a mental disability to someone, and suggests a knowledge that we don’t have. It seems inaccurate.

“Instead, we would use something more neutral: anti-gay, or some such, if we had reason to believe that was the case.”

In the UK, gay lobby group Stonewall has been strongly criticised for labelling its opponents as homophobes and bigots.

Bigotry

The group runs an annual awards ceremony, which includes a ‘Bigot of the Year’ award.

This year it was given to Cardinal Keith O’Brien of the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland because of comments he made against gay marriage.

But commercial sponsors of the event have threatened to pull support unless Stonewall drops the bigot booby prize.

And the winner of Stonewall’s politician of the year award, Ruth Davidson – herself a lesbian – said the group should end the name-calling.

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