The Gay and Lesbian Medical Association offered the following explanation on its website (accessed Dec. 14, 2004):
"Homophobia operates on two levels: internally and externally. Internal homophobia represents prejudices that all individuals learn (internalize) from their families, friends, teachers, religious institutions, government, and the media. External homophobia is the overt expression of those biases, ranging from social avoidance, to legal and religious proscription, to violence."
The American Psychiatric Association, wrote in its Sep. 20, 1996 article, published in Psychiatric News, that discussed the perceived causes of homophobia:
"[R]esearch lends considerable credence to the psychoanalytic theory that repressed homosexual urges may be at the root of homophobic behavior by heterosexual men...
An alternative hypothesis...focuses on the role of anxiety in sexual responsiveness. It postulates that 'viewing homosexual stimuli causes negative emotions such as anxiety in homophobic men but not in nonhomophobic men. Because anxiety has been shown to enhance arousal and erection, this theory would predict increases in erection in homophobic men.' Thus, the homophobic men's increased arousal is a response to a perceived threat rather than to stimuli they find sexually arousing."
The Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance, on the page "About Homophobia" on its website (accessed Aug. 3, 2006), outlined several possible causes for homophobia:
"The desire to discriminate against gays and lesbians, and thus to reserve special privileges to heterosexuals, appears to have many causes. Some are:
Inability or unwillingness to change the information received during childhood.
Fear of people who are different.
Promotion of homophobia by a religious group.
A heterosexual's natural feeling of repulsion at the thought of engaging in same-sex activity. Realizing that homosexual behavior is unnatural for them, some people generalize this feeling into the belief that homosexuality is wrong for everyone.
Actual homosexual feelings that a person cannot acknowledge or handle.
Low self esteem leading to a need to hate other group(s)."