Homophobia or sexism? A systematic review of prejudice against nonheterosexual orientation in Brazil

Angelo Brandelli Costa, Rodrigo Oliva Peroni, Denise Ruschel Bandeira, Henrique Caetano Nardi
Published Online:
16 Oct 2012
Volume/Issue No:
Volume 48 Issue 5

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Since it was coined in the 1970s, in the United States, the term “homophobia” has been invoked to define the prejudice against nonheterosexual orientation. Besides the US, the phenomenon has been detected in many contemporary societies, including Brazil. Prejudice against nonheterosexual orientation is strongly associated with the historical and social contexts in which it is embedded, which means that the term should not be used without a clear definition of its local specificities. This applies to the recent debate around homophobia in the Brazilian context. In an attempt to identify existing studies of prejudice against nonheterosexual orientations in Brazil, a systematic review was conducted in SciELO indexes, PubMed, PsycINFO, SCOPUS, and Web of Science. The articles were collected using the keyword “homophobia” and related terms, and “Brazil”, in the languages ⁣⁣of the databases. The search returned 355 articles. Of these, 247 were removed because they were duplicates. The abstracts of 109 studies published between 1973 and 2011were analyzed. Thirty‐one articles were identified as relevant. The reviewed studies indicate that prejudice against nonheterosexual orientations is an evident and widespread phenomenon that is prevalent in various populations and contexts. Nevertheless, prejudice in Brazil is not homogeneous, and particular attention is necessary to the inequality of gender relations (sexism) and prejudice against gender nonconformity, which seem to explain, if not cause, most of the prejudice against nonheterosexual orientations. Although theoretically there is a clear distinction between sexual orientation and gender expression, from the standpoint of manifestation of prejudice that distinction seems to be more tenuous.

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