Discrimination against asexual people
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Discrimination against asexual people (also known as acephobia or aphobia) 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.
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. Aspects of discrimination experienced can depend on other parts of one's identity.
One study found that asexual people are the most dehumanised of all sexual minorities, and also that asexuals can face even more prejudice than gay, lesbian, and bisexual people. Asexuals have also been known to have been subjected to corrective rape.
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. 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.
In some jurisdictions, marriages can be voided if not legitimised by consummation. This has been viewed as discriminatory to asexuals. Sex education programmes in schools have also been known to discriminate against asexuals.
The Asexual Visibility and Education Network is an organisation founded in 2001 by David Jay, and aims to raise awareness of asexuality, including by getting it discussed in schools to discourage discriminatory attitudes. 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. There have been attempts to increase awareness of asexuality in universities.
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.
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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.
- 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
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Closely linked to homophobia, biphobia, transphobia and acephobia"
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- 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.