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Let’s call it like it is:

It’s hatred, not fear!

Have you ever thought about what homophobia, transphobia, Islamophobia or xenophobia really mean? Have you ever questioned whether they accurately describe what really happens when one decides to discriminate or commit a crime against another based on their sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, background or origin?

We have! And we think it is time to challenge the use of words ending in “-phobia/-phobic” to describe behaviours and actions that are not in fact motivated by fear (which is what “phobia” means), but by hatred!

Where does ‘phobia’ come from?

The word “phobia” has been used for a long time in clinical psychology to describe a type of anxiety disorder that involves an irrational and uncontrollable need to avoid some specific situations (e.g. claustrophobia: fear of confined spaces), or things (e.g. arachnophobia: fear of spiders). Of course, we cannot exclude there might be very rare cases of actual “homophobia” (irrational fear of homosexuality) or “xenophobia” (irrational fear of foreigners) out there, but these should be diagnosed by a professional, and the individual suffering from such phobias should receive psychiatric support.

This concept of irrational need to avoid LGBTQ people was then co-opted by Weinberg in the late 1960s, when homosexuality was classified as a mental disorder, by drawing from his personal interactions with colleagues and acquaintances that fit the clinical definition for phobia, i.e. they were avoidant of people who were gay or who they suspected to be gay out of anxiety and fear. Since then, homophobia has been adopted by politicians and social commentators as a catchall term for something highly specific and unusual. Other terms such as Islamophobia or xenophobia was later coined to describe irrational fear towards other communities.

We hope you will agree, the discrimination and violence perpetrated against LGBTQ people, Muslim community or foreigners are not driven by an individual’s irrational fear, but by social, cultural or religious ideologies promoting hatred.

So, let’s start calling hatred for what it is: hate, not fear!

We call on every single one of you to stop using words like homophobia, transphobia, Islamophobia or xenophobia to describe hate-crimes or any type of discrimination.


Misia, not phobia!

The same language that gave us the word “phobia”, Greek, also gives us another word we can use to describe hate-fuelled behaviours. This word is “misia”, which, as you probably worked out already, means hatred.

This is why we ask you to pledge today to start using the right language to describe hatred!

What we called “homophobia” should really be called “homomisia”; what we called “transphobia” is in fact “transmisia”; “Islamophobia” is in fact “Islamomisia”; “xenophobia” is “xenomisia”.

Language matters.

We know that changing our language won’t immediately reduce the violence already happening. But using the right terminology to describe the hatred and discrimination too many of us are still facing today will help us educate others, raise awareness and, ultimately, create a more inclusive and just society.


The Misia Pledge is a new campaign founded by Diversity Pride to encourage organisations and individuals around the world to harness the power of the language that accurately describes the attitudes and behaviours resulting from hatred towards certain groups or communities.

In particular, signatories pledge to replace any word ending in “-phobia/-phobic” with the relevant word ending in “-misia/-misic” whenever describing discrimination or violence motivated by hatred, not fear:
The Misia Pledge Logo

Hate or dislike of gay people; prejudice against gay people

When describing hate or dislike of LGBTQI people instead of using 'homophobia' start using 'homomisia'.

When describing a person or prejudice against gay/LGBTQ people instead 'homophobic' use 'homomisic'

Hate or dislike of queer people/community; prejudice against queer people/community

When describing hate or dislike of queer people instead of using 'queerphobia' start using 'queermisia'.

When describing a person or prejudice against queer people instead 'queerphobic' use 'queermisic'

Hate or dislike of Muslim people; prejudice against Muslim people

When describing hate or dislike of Muslim people instead of using 'Islamophobia' start using 'Islamomisia'.

When describing a person or prejudice against Muslim people instead 'Islamophobic' use 'Islamomisic'

Hate or dislike of foreigners; prejudice against foreigners

When describing hate or dislike of foreign people instead of using 'xenophobia' start using 'xenomisia'.

When describing a person or prejudice against foreign people instead 'xenophobic' use 'xenomisic'

Hate or dislike of transgender people; prejudice against transgender people

When describing hate or dislike of trans people instead of using 'transphobia' start using 'transmisia'.

When describing a person or prejudice against trans people instead 'transphobic' use 'transmisic'.

Signatories may still use the terms like ending with '-phobia' whenever directly quoting an external source (to ensure accuracy of the quote) or if they are indeed describing the rare cases of diagnosed medical conditions resulting in irrational fear of a particular group. 

By signing this pledge, you become a supporter of the movement to improve the terminology we use and raise awareness. Collectively, we can have a transformational impact, and we hope you feel able to be the part of it!

It is FREE to sign the pledgeDiversity Pride and our partners do not gain nor expect any financial benefit from leading this pledge, and we will never charge companies to sign the pledge or receive information about the proposed terminology. The aim and objective is to reclaim the language we use to describe hate, consciously educate the world about the terminology and simply call the hate by its name! 

As they start the process of reviewing their internal and external materials (policies, handbooks, webpages, reports, articles, publications...) to make the necessary changes required by the pledge, signatories are strongly encouraged to also look out for other ways to make your comms and language more inclusive (e.g. by addressing any gender-bias).

Diversity Pride remains available to discuss any additional support signatories might require conducting a full inclusion audit of the language used in internal and external comms.

The Visible Action

Diversity Pride is committed to deliver visible and tangible results to create long-term change for those who will come after us. As a part of the Misia Pledge we ask organisations to publish action-led impact commitment on your website. Below there are three ways that we believe organisations can have immediate and long-lasting impact:

Businesses can join the international effort by developing an action plans to change the terminology in internal and external materials. This will not only be an immediate change but also provides a blueprint for future projects you may be working on.

It necessary the right training will be provided not only to align the language, but also to show to your employees that you care about them and their experience working with you.

For example: You commit to update your policies and educate your senior leadership to ensure new terminology is adapted across all departments. You shall also distribute the information during the inclusion-focused training sessions to relevant individuals including those working in communications, events and marketing. 

Businesses can join the international effort by publishing clear and simple information about non-discrimination policies for customers. Where possible they should have specialist teams dedicated to support customers if they are having problems, such as those who may have felt discriminated at your premises or by your staff.

This could include a warm welcome message to all customers, no matter what their believe, gender, ability, sexual orientation, origin, or colour of their skin is. Other may wish to consider visibly showcase their support for all, by standing up to hate-related incidents targeted at their employees.

For example, Ikea posted supporting to a racist and Islamomisic comment about one of their employees:

“Our company has clear values: respect for everyone, regardless of their origin, sexual orientation or religion. Before you judge a person based on their clothes, you must get to know them."

“We do not welcome your comment which is explicitly discriminatory. Of course, you have the right to have your opinions in private, but publishing them openly in this way exposes you to the eyes of the law, and we will in no way mourn the fact that you no longer ‘step into’ our store with such ideas,” 

Businesses can join the international effort by committing to help their local communities. Over the past year many NGOs have lost funding and support. There is an increased need for communities to come together with practical support, such as supporting people who experience homelessness or unemployment who wish to retrain in order to get a new job.

The way business work is changing. The language we use is changing. So too will their relationship with communities they serve bringing greater emphasis on grassroots community action.

For example: Micro Rainbow UK supports LGBTQ migrants with access to Wi-Fi and laptops in order to work on their immigration cases. 

The Misia Pledge is driven by the DIVents Charter accreditation; a 360 degrees commitment to diversity, inclusion and visibility in communication, events and marketing. The DIVents Charter is a growing movement to tackle inequality within organisations and the outputs they produce.

In similar spirit, we hope businesses will commit to the Misia Pledge, a powerful global business-led movement to update the terminology we use and raise awareness about the discrimination many around the world still face today.  

For more information, email us at misiapledge@diversitypride.org

How to make the pledge?

1

Fill in the form 📑🖌

Start by filling out the form with information about you and/or the organisation your represent. Do get in touch with our team if you have any questions about the form or you require the form in other format. After you submit your entry, you can start working on The Visible Action plan (See above).

Sign up form link: https://forms.office.com/r/j762NMuGQ5

OUR DESIGN

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2

Implement the pledge & ⬇️

Email us a link to The Visible Action on your website, and a copy of your logo to misiapledge@diversitypride.org.

Diversity Pride The Misia Pledge SIGNED
➡️ and commit to it publicly

We shall provide you with assets for you to share across your digital platforms.

3

Spread the word ❤️🌈☃️

- Talk about it openly in your groups, explain what the Misia Pledge is
- Consciously share the knowledge with others
- Share the Pledge with others

OUR DESIGN

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Who supports the pledge?

[TO BE ANNOUNCED IN OCTOBER 2021]

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