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LGBTQ+HM: Free Speech and Hate Speech: Analysing ‘anti-gender’ Discourse

February 7 @ 4:30 pm - 5:30 pm

Free: book via Eventbrite

This LGBTQ+ History Month talk focuses on what is commonly referred to as homophobic and transphobic ‘soft hate speech’ which (unlike ‘hard’ hate) operates within the limits of the law and may be perceived as ‘sayable’ in the public sphere. This makes it more difficult to recognize and challenge.

Like others, speaker Helen Sauntson contends that soft hate speech poses an unsettling threat to democracy and produces concurrent detrimental effects on the social and emotional wellbeing of those who are targeted by it. In the talk, Helen presents a discourse analysis of ‘anti-gender’ soft hate speech in a sample of publicly-available video recordings on the social media platform YouTube. This type of analysis enables the identification of the key discursive strategies deployed by those who produce and post the videos in attempts to distort progressive views of gender and sexuality. The analysis shows how older cultural grievances and forms of discrimination and prejudice are now being recast, or ‘re-trenched’, within current environments, especially in relation to homophobia and transphobia. It is argued that this type of language-focused analysis is particularly useful for conducting analyses of transphobic and homophobic soft hate speech with a view to understanding how it might ultimately be disrupted. The research builds on existing work to further understandings of how anti-gender discourses are established and sustained across transnational contexts, and how the defence of ‘free speech’ is often strategically deployed to sustain and legitimise these discriminatory discourses.


York St John Creative Centre York St John University Lord Mayor’s Walk York YO31 7EX
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