University of Leicester
2023KeighleyRPHD.pdf (3.1 MB)

The dark side of social media: exploring the nature, extent of and responses to the routinisation of LGB+ online hate

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posted on 2023-05-12, 09:04 authored by Rachel Keighley

This thesis explores the experiences of LGBTQ+ young people aged 13-25 online and the ways in which they are exposed to hate targeting their sexuality. In doing so, this research highlights the pervasive nature of all forms of LGB+ targeted hate online and the emotional and behavioural impacts on the LGBTQ+ community. This study utilises a mixed-methods project surveying 175 LGBTQ+ young people and 14 follow-up interviews. Through a participant driven approach LGBTQ+ young people defined online hate, exploring the full spectrum of identity targeted hate and the multitude of responses required through a queer critical criminology lens. By focusing on the routinisation of LGB+ online hate this study demonstrates the complexities in understanding sexuality and gender through a lens of difference. By challenging our binary and cis/hetero understandings of identity, this thesis seeks to capture why LGBTQ+ young people are targeted, thus offering a cohesive framework through which to respond to the commission of hate.

The research findings tell a narrative driven by and through LGBTQ+ voices, highlighting the importance of research with young people. The findings also demonstrate the importance of a cohesive criminal justice and societal response to online hate, underpinned by a broader educational effort on sexuality, gender and difference. Thus, this thesis seeks to expose the injustice of everyday instances of online hate being normalised in society and challenges the troubling heterosexist and cisgender binaries that underpin the marginalisation of LGBTQ+ people. In acknowledging the highly nuanced identities of young people, this thesis helps to develop existing methodological, theoretical and legal frameworks utilised in the field of hate and sexuality studies.



Neil Chakraborti; Teela Sanders

Date of award


Author affiliation

School of Criminology

Awarding institution

University of Leicester

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

Qualification name

  • PhD



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