Homophobia: an evolutionary analysis of the concept as applied to nursing


  • Janice P Richmond RGN BSc(Hons),

    1. Staff Nurse, ward 8A, Northern Ireland Centre for Clinical Oncology, Belvoir Park Hospital, Belfast,
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  • Hugh McKenna RGN RMN DipN(Lond) BSc(Hons) DPhil AdvDipED RNT

    1. Co-ordinator of Nursing Research, School of Health Sciences, University of Ulster, Jordanstown, Co Antrim, Northern Ireland
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Janice Richmond 90 Tamlaght Road, Rasharkin, Ballymena, Co. Antrim BT44 8RL. Northern Ireland.


Homophobia is a socially accepted, culturally based belief, which is heavily influenced by an individual’s or a community’s inherent attitudes, beliefs and values. This conceptual analysis of homophobia has endeavoured to review existing literature on homophobia and subsequently identify and examine the phobic constituents of the concept. References to homophobia are mostly from the 1970–1980 period and there is much unacknowledged conceptual baggage that accompanies the term, which results in restrictive and inappropriate ideas about this concept. This is mainly the consequence of comparisons of homophobia to other phobias, which directly infers fear of homosexuals, while in reality homophobia is more of a biased disgust at homosexuals’ lifestyles. This paper attempts to re-conceptualize homophobia so that empirical research can begin to test the critical attributes of the concept. This forms the basis for the development of a comprehensive social psychological theory of attitudes towards homosexuals. Such a theory would transcend the unilateral and unidimensional concept of homophobia as a fear and help the understanding of attitudes and feelings towards homosexuals.