This paper uses corpus-based methods to explore how British Parliamentary arguments against LGBT equality have changed in response to decreasing social acceptability of discriminatory language against minority groups. A comparison of the language of opposition to the equalisation of the age of consent for anal sex (1998–2000) is made to the oppositional language in debates to allow same-sex marriage (2013). Keyword, collocation and concordance analyses were used to identify differences in overall argumentation strategies, assessing the extent to which previously explicit homophobic speech (e.g. homosexuality as unnatural) has been replaced by more indirect strategies (e.g. less use of personalised argumentation via the pronoun I). We argue that while homophobic language appears to be on the decrease in such contexts, there is a mismatch between words and acts, requiring analysts to acknowledge the presence of more subtle indications of homophobic discourse in the future.
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