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Implicit homophobic argument structure: equal marriage discourse in the Moral maze

Van der Bom, Isabelle; Coffey-Glover, Laura; Jones, Lucy; Mills, Sara; Paterson, Laura L.


Isabelle Van der Bom

Laura Coffey-Glover

Sara Mills

Laura L. Paterson


This article analyses the linguistic and discursive elements which contribute to the production of implicit homophobia. Explicit homophobia has been well documented and strategies for countering discriminatory language have been developed (Baker, 2014; Leap, 2012). However, our interest here is in documenting implicit homophobia, where homophobic beliefs are only hinted at, are disassociated from the speaker, or are embedded within discursive and argument structures.

We decided to analyse the debate in the media around the introduction of equal or same-sex marriage legislation in the UK. We focused our analysis on a series of radio programmes on BBC Radio 4, The Moral Maze, (2011-12) where the issue of same-sex marriage was debated with a team of panelists and invited guests from a range of different organisations. Different perspectives on same sex marriage were discussed, in a seemingly objective and dispassionate way, where the interactants distanced themselves from homophobic beliefs and yet, implicitly subscribed to implicit homophobia. We used an analysis drawing on argumentation structure (Fairclough and Fairclough, 2012) and through focusing on stance, recontextualisation, imaginaries, and metaphor, we developed an analysis which made the way that implicit homophobia works more visible. In this way, we hope to foreground implicit homophobia, and develop a linguistic and discursive `toolkit’ which will enable it to be challenged and countered.


Van der Bom, I., Coffey-Glover, L., Jones, L., Mills, S., & Paterson, L. L. (2015). Implicit homophobic argument structure: equal marriage discourse in the Moral maze. Journal of Language and Sexuality, 4(1),

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Jan 1, 2015
Deposit Date Sep 2, 2015
Publicly Available Date Sep 2, 2015
Journal Journal of Language and Sexuality
Print ISSN 2211-3770
Electronic ISSN 2211-3770
Publisher John Benjamins Publishing
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 4
Issue 1
Keywords Homophobia, Argumentation, Same-sex marriage, Imaginaries, Metaphor, Stance, Recontextualisation
Public URL
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Additional Information Copyright John Benjamins Publishing 2015.

Please contact the publisher for permission to reuse or reprint this article in any form.


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