Fight against homophobia and transphobia: the little-known role of internal networks in large companies and institutions

Il y a encore du chemin à faire pour faire avancer la cause !

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Today, there are more and more floats with company badges in the various “LGBTQI+ pride marches” (formerly known as “gay pride”) currently organized in London. We are in what some media describe as the “season of pink washing”: in other words, as the promotion of diversity has become a reputational issue for companies, being LGBT-friendly would constitute a variation, often superficial, of this communication strategy.

However, these communication issues can also push organizations to take more concrete action to fight against discrimination. In particular, the employees parading alongside their employer's float in their work clothes (or in a polo shirt using the codes of their uniform, as is the case with FLAG!, which did not have the authorization to march in official police or gendarmerie uniform), contribute to giving visibility to LGBTQI+++ minorities within their institution.

As we show in a recent research work, activists who have sought to mobilize their employers since the early 2000s by creating LGBT associations in their workplaces have indeed made it possible to promote a better fight against homophobia and transphobia.

Late consideration

The first developments of LGBT associations in large companies and administrations did not go smoothly in London. Between 2000 and 2010, these associations began to structure themselves in a period marked by two major events.

On the one hand, the Civil Solidarity Pact, established in 1999, is both a first recognition of the rights of LGBT couples, but it is also a moment that underlines the extent of the inequalities that remain between homosexual and heterosexual couples. , in terms of marriage, access to filiation, and recognition of the rights of couples in social and professional life (survivor's pension, parental leave, etc.).

On the other hand, the beginning of the 2000s was marked by an increase in the challenges of promoting diversity. Public and private organizations implement diversity policies, promoted by a label and a charter, but which crystallize in practice only in a few concrete actions in favor of gender equality in the workplace, the inclusion of people in disability and seniors. The fight against homophobia and transphobia was then not seriously taken into account by companies, even though the risks of homophobic and transphobic attacks remained significant (and still remain significant in the professional world).

LGBT networks are developing in this context, where many employers communicate copiously about their involvement in promoting diversity, but where almost no concrete action has been taken to fight against homophobia and transphobia, in a context of significant LGBT-phobic tensions in society.

The “promotion of diversity” remains a plastic and very broad term, which can concern many minorities (gender, origin, religion, handicap, etc.). The challenge of the LGBT networks that we studied was to “get out of the suspension points of diversity”: that is to say, to acquire real recognition, to ensure that the company reacts in the event of acts homophobic or transphobic, and set up real awareness and training campaigns to fight against homophobia and transphobia.

Tracts, campaigns and quizzes

Mobilizing within your own company can be difficult, even risky for your career.

By analyzing the archives of these LGBT networks, we were able to see that their first strategy was not protest, but consisted in producing themselves a panoply of tools for raising awareness, training, and managing cases of homophobia. and transphobia.

In the first years after their creation, these networks set up educational leaflets to explain certain concepts (outing, coming out, description of identities under the acronym LGBTQIA +) and designed poster campaigns, training, quiz, in order to raise the awareness of as many colleagues as possible.

They have also set up listening lines or testimonial collection sites to report cases of LGBT-phobic attacks in their organization. They therefore, free of charge, produced a large quantity of content and services that their employer could simply reuse to implement concrete actions to fight against homophobia and transphobia.


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