Homophobia comes in many forms. It can come as an insult, bullying, extreme intimidation, and violence. Homophobia can also be subtle; you could be ignored or you could be treated less favourably than others. When you get such discriminating behaviour from colleagues or your boss, the workplace can become a hostile environment.
No one should have to experience such conditions at work. Being singled out for your sexuality is not just upsetting, but in some cases, it could also be harmful. But how do you face homophobia at work? Will fighting back be an effective way of dealing with homophobia? Should you just quit and find another job?
Here are some ways to deal with the fear, the ignorance, and the blatant discrimination:
Know the law.
Labour laws exist to protect everyone’s rights in the workplace. There are laws against harassment, victimisation, and discrimination. No one has the right to violate your dignity or create a hostile and intimidating environment.
In addition to labour laws, your own company may have its own guidelines on homophobia. Be aware of it and make a note of procedures involved with formal grievances.
Document the incident.
Write the incident down as soon as it happens. Documenting the incident, with as much information as possible, will provide an accurate account when you eventually make your complaint.
Go to people who have the authority to stop the incident.
You can make an informal complaint with your superior and ask for a resolution to the matter. If the discriminating behaviour continues and nothing has been done, you may make a written complaint to the human resource department. Beyond that and for serious incidents, seeking legal advice may help.
Rise above the insults.
Most people might behave irresponsibly out of ignorance. It helps to not engage such unacceptable behaviour. You can rise above the insults or the bullying by taking ownership of your sexuality. Loud and proud, as the “battle cry” goes.
Seek support from your community.
Talk to friends or even a counsellor about what is taking place at work. Homophobes who are hostile depend on gays, lesbians, and transgenders keeping quiet about their situation. There is no need to suffer alone. You can reach out to people you trust and especially to certified professionals. They might not only provide support but also intervene on your behalf.
You don’t have to tolerate a homophobic workplace. Everyone, no matter the sexuality, deserves equal and fair treatment at work. Know your rights. Document the situation. Tell superiors. And seek support.
If you need support for dealing with homophobia or bullying in your workplace, contact Sydney Gay Counselling on 0412 241 410 or book an appointment online today.