Useful Definitions


Sexual orientation: Sexual orientation is the capacity of each individual to feel a profound emotional, affective, and sexual attraction towards other individuals of the opposite sex, same-sex, or multiple sexes, and to maintain intimate and sexual relations with these individuals.

Gender identity: Gender identity is the intimate and personal experience of one’s own profoundly lived gender, which corresponds or not to a biological sex assigned at birth and is comprised of one’s consciousness of body (that may imply, if freely consented, a modification of physical appearance or of corporal functions via medical, surgical, or other means) and other expressions of gender, such as dress, discourse, and behaviors.

Homophobia: Homophobia is hostility, explicit or implicit, but violent and aggressive towards individuals who have love or sexual preferences for the same sex. This hostility instills fear, hate, aversion, and intolerant intellectual disapproval towards homosexuality. Homophobia thus encompasses prejudices about homosexuality and their violent manifestations, and also discrimination (in the workplace, in housing, in services) towards homosexuals. « In the same fashion as xenophobia, racism, or antisemitism, homophobia seems to be a designation of the Other as the contrary, inferior, or abnormal evil. » Homophobia may result in murder, or more often, a condemnation to institutional death.

Homophobia may take many forms: religious homophobia, clinical homophobia (in medicine, particularly in psychiatry or psychology), anthropological homophobia (under the guise of differentiation of the sexes), ideological homophobia (Nazism, Stalinism), and liberal homophobia, which consists of simply tolerating homosexuals while simultaneously not opposing discrimination towards them.

Transgender person: Gender identity is one of many more fundamental aspects of life. A person’s sex is generally determined at birth, when it also becomes a juridical and social fact. Yet, certain individuals – not many – do not identify with their assigned biological sex. The same goes for intersex persons whose bodies have a mix of male and female characteristics, including for certain among them their genital anatomy. For others, the problem comes from the innate perception of themselves that does not correspond to their biological sex assigned at birth. Transgender person, hence, means all of these cases for transgender of transsexual persons.

Stigmatization: Stigmatization is a dynamic process of devaluation that significantly discredits an individual in the eyes of others. The characteristics that provide the bases for stigmatization, for example, skin color, language, or sexual preference, may be completely arbitrary. In a culture or particular situation, certain attributes are chosen and defined by other persons as less honorable or valueless.