Freedom of Speech: A Pernicious Shroud for Homophobia, Conor McCormick

Abstract (click to view)

Freedom of speech/expression is a legal principle central to any democratic society. However, it is argued in this paper that, in cases which implicate the law governing homophobic communications, deference to that principle is not always a favourable approach; despite its embedment in the ideology of democracy. A case study involving Olympic diver Tom Daley is used to demonstrate how justifications based on the principle of free speech can indirectly, yet actively, oppress the queer community. The methodology used applies a queer perspective to the heterosexual norms which form the basis of free speech justifications, arguing it is possible to transcend their superficial democratic appeal in certain circumstances. The writer aims to raise the awareness of both legislators and prosecutors, in whose minds the value of free speech arguments must be carefully balanced against the risk of misunderstanding and harm alluded to herein. It is hoped that, consequently, some reconsideration will be given to the primacy of freedom of speech in a democratic society over important queer agendas.