The corpora demonstrated that many users in the sample were uninformed about LGBTQ+ individuals; from simple confusion regarding the difference between transgender and homosexual to more complex issues such as disagreement on what constitutes a “natural” sexual relationship. Additionally, there was an attempt to understand the issue through “scientific facts.” This general lack of understanding resulted in a strong sense of othering and a perception of LGBTQ+ as unacceptable, yet tolerated by the law. This translated into vitriolic insults hurled at LGBTQ+ people, yet the words “trans” and “homo” were also used as generic insults.
The majority of users in the Arabic corpus lacked a clear idea of the difference between homosexual and transgender, while the English corpus users reflected the opposite. Some users used scientific evidence to educate the public regarding the difference between the two.
The Arabic corpus featured heated discussions, most calling for violence, especially regarding topics such as queer sex. Related discussions in the English corpus proved more sedate but malicious, nonetheless.
It is worth noting that there doesn’t seem to be a word for transgender people in Arabic. The word commonly used for this is “mutahawwiloon” or “mutahawwiloon jinsiyyan,” which mean transsexual. This erroneous perception has a negative effect on this group because many Levant populations assume they are “attention-seeking cross-dressers.” There is therefore a lack of understanding and appreciation for the plight and situation of the LGBTQ+ community.
In the English data, anti-LGBTQ+ discussions were often linked to protecting traditional family values and upholding religious beliefs, most often in response to recent news about the decriminalization of gay/homosexual relationships between consenting adults in Lebanon, in addition to this being the first country in the Arab world to launch a gay pride week.
The rights of LGBTQ+ people were discussed in terms of what was admissible by religion and by law, as well as the reality. Discussion ensued about whether religions permitted homosexuality, or if it was a matter of interpretation by their followers. There was a sense that even if homosexuality were to be decriminalized, the social perception would be slow to change. Similarly, although religious views on homosexuality were sometimes hyperbolized, there was still space for homosexuals to exist without intense persecution, at least in some areas of countries like Lebanon. The reality and lack of understanding converged when people discussed the morality and feasibility of LGBTQ+ people raising a family.