‘One can hardly call them homophobic’: Denials of antigay prejudice within the same-sex marriage debate

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The UK’s Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act (2013) was framed by the Government as an equality measure and, as such, those who opposed the legislation were likely to be sensitive to possible accusations of prejudice. This paper examines opposition to marriage equality within the British press and explores how denials of homophobia were made. Opponents to same-sex marriage attended to common sense notions of ‘homophobes’, either by aligning their views with categories of persons not typically considered homophobic or by distancing their views from a homophobic other. Opponents also offered a counter accusation that it was liberal supporters of same-sex marriage who were intolerant. Parallels are drawn with discursive literature on racist discourse and it appears that despite social scientists’ attempts to expand the concept of antigay prejudice, homophobia is commonly referred to in terms of irrational bigoted individuals.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)281-295
JournalDiscourse & Society
Issue number3
Early online date30 Jan 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2017



  • Homophobia
  • heterosexism
  • same-sex marriage
  • discourse
  • rhetoric

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