Discrimination against asexual people

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Discrimination against asexual people (also known as acephobia[1][2] or aphobia[3][4]) encompasses a range of negative attitudes, behaviours, and feelings toward asexuality or people who identify as part of the asexual spectrum. Negative feelings or characterisations toward asexuality include dehumanisation, the belief that asexuality is a mental illness, that asexual people cannot feel love, and refusal to accept asexuality as a genuine sexual orientation. Asexuality is sometimes confused with celibacy. Anti-asexual hate crimes also exist, and asexual people may face greater amounts of prejudice and discrimination than those of other sexual minorities.

There have been efforts to combat anti-asexual discrimination through legislation or education (such as asexual workshops).[5][6]



Behaviours and attitudes that are considered discriminatory include the idea that asexuality is a mental illness, that asexuality is a phase or a choice, the idea that asexual people cannot feel love, and those that make asexual people feel dehumanised.[2][7][8][9] Aspects of discrimination experienced can depend on other parts of one's identity.[10]

One study found that asexual people are the most dehumanised of all sexual minorities,[11][12] and also that asexuals can face even more prejudice than gay, lesbian, and bisexual people.[13] Asexuals have also been known to have been subjected to corrective rape.[14]

Some, such as sociologist Mark Carrigan believe that asexual discrimination is more to do with marginalisation, and that a lot of it is a result of a lack of understanding and awareness of asexuality.[15][16] There is also controversy over the inclusion of asexuality in the LGBT and queer umbrellas, with some believing that asexuals do not experience oppression and are encroaching on the LGBT community.[17]

Institutionalised discrimination[edit]

In some jurisdictions, marriages can be voided if not legitimised by consummation.[18] This has been viewed as discriminatory to asexuals.[19] Sex education programmes in schools have also been known to discriminate against asexuals.[20][21]

Social discrimination[edit]

Asexuals may be socially discriminated against due to beliefs that that heterosexuality is the default sexuality or that asexuals are actually gay or lesbian people in denial.[8][22]

Anti-discrimination endeavours[edit]

In New York, the Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act categorises asexuals as a protected class.[23]

The Asexual Visibility and Education Network is an organisation founded in 2001 by David Jay, and aims to raise awareness of asexuality,[24] including by getting it discussed in schools to discourage discriminatory attitudes.[2] The Asexual Awareness Week is an organised event formed by Sarah Beth Brooks in 2010, also with the aim of raising asexual awareness and dispelling misconceptions about it.[8] There have been attempts to increase awareness of asexuality in universities.[25]

In 2015, United Kingdom Labour Party parliamentary candidate George Norman called for Parliament to add asexuality to equality legislation, and to recognise that one per cent of the UK's electorate are asexual.[13]


  1. ^ Joshua Glenn Parmenter (August 2018). "The Culture of Sexuality: Identification, Conceptualization, and Acculturation Processes Within Sexual Minority and Heterosexual Cultures". Utah State University. p. 96. Retrieved 1 December 2018.
  2. ^ a b c Joe Morgan (30 March 2015). "Here are the 11 biggest asexual myths busted". Gay Star News. London. Retrieved 27 November 2018.
  3. ^ Bruce LaBruce (3 April 2012). "Asexuality Is All the Rage". Vice. Retrieved 2 December 2018.
  4. ^ "Anything but lacking". The McGill Daily. 21 November 2017. Retrieved 2 December 2018.
  5. ^ "LGBTQrazy: A is for…". The Brunswickan (University of New Brunswick). Vol. 147 no. 7. 17 October 2013. p. 10. It’s important to talk about asexuality because it’s often an overlooked sexual identity, and acephobia – discrimination against asexual people – is experienced by many asexual people.
  6. ^ Joelle Ruby Ryan, "On Being Asexual and Transgender: Notes on Identity, Visibility, and Empowerment", in Trans Bodies, Trans Selves: A Resource for the Transgender (ed. Laura Erickson-Schroth), Oxford University Press (2014), ISBN 9780199325368, page 367 "I now give asexual workshops, screen the film (A)sexual with a postfilm discussion, and try to have conversations with my friends and colleagues about asexual identity and acephobia
  7. ^ "Let's Talk About Pride! How To Make Intersectional Spaces At Pride". ComicsVerse. 19 June 2018. Retrieved 27 November 2018.
  8. ^ a b c Robyn Exton (14 November 2016). "Aces Show Their Hand - What Is Asexuality And Why You Should Know About It". Huffington Post. Retrieved 27 November 2018.
  9. ^ Elizabeth Hanna Hanson (2013). "Making Something Out of Nothing: Asexuality and Narrative". Loyola University Chicago. p. 83. Retrieved 1 December 2018.
  10. ^ Harrad, Kate, ed. (2016). Purple Prose: Bisexuality in Britain. Thorntree Press LLC. ISBN 9780996460170.
  11. ^ Gordon Hodson (1 September 2012). "Prejudice Against "Group X" (Asexuals)". Psycology Today. Retrieved 27 November 2018.
  12. ^ Cara C. MacInnis; Gordon Hodson (24 April 2012). "Intergroup bias toward "Group X": Evidence of prejudice, dehumanization, avoidance, and discrimination against asexuals" (PDF). Sage Publications. Retrieved 27 November 2018.
  13. ^ a b Jack Gevertz (28 April 2015). ""Parliament doesn't recognise my sexuality": Britain's first openly asexual candidate, George Norman, speaks to Vision". York Vision. Retrieved 27 November 2018.
  14. ^ Dominique Mosbergen (20 June 2013). "Battling Asexual Discrimination, Sexual Violence And 'Corrective' Rape". Huffington Post. Retrieved 27 November 2018.
  15. ^ Lucy Wallis (17 January 2012). "What is it like to be asexual?". BBC News. Retrieved 27 November 2018.
  16. ^ Maddie Wright (26 October 2017). "Asexual students on identity, experiences of intolerance". The Rocky Mountain Collegian. Retrieved 27 November 2018.
  17. ^ Dominique Mosbergen (21 June 2013). "LGBT, Asexual Communities Clash Over Ace Inclusion". Huffington Post. Retrieved 27 November 2018.
  18. ^ Elizabeth F. Emens (2014). "Compulsory Sexuality". Columbia University. p. 351. Retrieved 1 December 2018.
  19. ^ Sally Goldfarb (2016). "Divorcing Marriage from Sex: Radically Rethinking the Role of Sex in Marriage Law in the United States". p. 20. Retrieved 1 December 2018.
  20. ^ Miri Mogilevsky (21 January 2016). "5 Things You Can Do Right Now to Support the Asexual Youth in Your Life". Everyday Feminism. Retrieved 7 December 2018.
  21. ^ Marie Claire (23 February 2015). "What It Feels Like To Be Asexual In A Sex-Obsessed World". Marie Claire. Retrieved 7 December 2018.
  22. ^ Nicole Wiesenthal (Autumn 2014). "Glossary of Asexual Terms". The Mirror. Vol. 3 no. 3. p. 19. Closely linked to homophobia, biphobia, transphobia and acephobia"
  23. ^ "The Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act ("SONDA")". Office of the Attorney General. Archived from the original on 16 March 2010. Retrieved 27 November 2018.
  24. ^ JohnThomas Didymus (27 April 2013). "Asexual Visibility and Education Network marks Asexuality Day". Digital Journal. Retrieved 27 November 2018.
  25. ^ Erickson-Schroth, Laura, ed. (12 May 2014). Trans Bodies, Trans Selves: A Resource for the Transgender Community. Oxford University Press. p. 367. ISBN 9780199325368. Retrieved 30 November 2018.

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