In the cultural battle between those who oppose and those who approve of homosexual behavior, homosex advocates often describe their ideological opponents as “homophobic” and label them as “homophobes.” In addition to the fallacious nature of such an argument (commits the ad hominem fallacy), the charge itself is false. A phobia is an irrational fear of something. Those who suffer from arachnophobia have an irrational fear of spiders. Those who suffer from claustrophobia have an irrational fear of small spaces. Would it be accurate, however, to describe those who disapprove of homosex as having an irrational fear of homosex or homosexual persons?
In all my years of trafficking among people who oppose homosex, I have yet to meet a single individual who is genuinely fearful of homosex and/or homosexual persons. While such individuals may exist, surely their numbers are exceedingly small, and thus they should not be used to characterize opponents of homosex generally. It is not fear, but a sense of moral disapproval and/or personal revulsion to the act of homosex that drives most anti-homosex proponents. This is the same basis on which most homosexuals would oppose incest and pedophilia. In the same way that their opposition to these sexual practices should not be labeled incestophobic and pedophiliophobic, those who oppose homosex on moral or personal grounds should not be labeled homophobic. It is a misuse of language.
Indeed, I can’t think of any other morally debatable behavior in which those who oppose the behavior are said to have a phobia (or to be guilty of “hate”). Many people have moral or personal qualms against drug use, adultery, and polygamy. Would we label such individuals drugophobes, adulterophobes, or polygamophobes, or say that they are driven by hate? Clearly not. Having a moral opposition or personal revulsion to some behavior does not make you fearful/hateful of that behavior and/or those who participate in it.
While homosexuals and homosex advocates may not like the fact that others do not support the behavior, distorting their opponents’ view and calling them names will not persuade any one, nor help advance the debate.