The Oxford matchmaking site OxMatch has been accused of homophobia.
Question 40 on the most recent OxMatch questionnaire reads: “I would be okay if my children were gay”. Respondents were then asked to choose a number between 1 and 5 to indicate “Strongly disagree” or “Strongly agree”.
In a statement posted on their Facebook, OxMatch said: “We have been made aware of concerns regarding a question which has been perceived to be homophobic”.
Contacted for comment, OxMatch told The Oxford Blue: “The specific question was put in due to previous complaints about individuals matching with those holding homophobic views. The question was designed to filter out homophobic individuals. We have not received a single complaint about this question despite thousands of students doing the survey. The same question was used in other non-affiliated surveys that ran in Oxford and elsewhere before without complaints”.
OxMatch further stated: “We have always sought to make OxMatch as inclusive as possible and welcome any suggestions about how to do that”.
In a statement, Oxford University’s LGBTQ Society said: “We have recently been made aware of the inclusion of an inappropriate and upsetting question in the latest OxMatch Questionnaire. We have made contact with the creators of OxMatch urging them to remove this question, and in the meantime wish to extend our welfare support to those who have been adversely impacted by this issue”.
Speaking to The Oxford Blue, Mr Jones said: “OxMatch have failed queer people in numerous ways through their handling of this homophobic question”. He elaborated: “They refuse to engage in a proper dialogue with queer people who have called them out, banning comments on their post. They refuse to apologise and take responsibility for their actions”.
Mr Jones further told The Blue: “The question itself is harmful because it legitimises and carves out a space for people who are ready to disown their children for being gay” and accused OxMatch of “trivialising one of the most painful experiences LGBTQ+ youth go through on a daily basis in this country”. He further asserted that: “Having a disclaimer at the start of the survey saying: ‘If you have a problem being matched with people from a variety of different backgrounds, sexualities and identities, then don’t use our service’ is a far more effective way of protecting queer people without pandering to the interests of homophobic people by making a space for them”.
Mr Jones further called for a boycott, telling The Blue: “Oxford students should boycott OxMatch, otherwise they will send a clear signal to the organisation that we will tolerate blatant homophobia at our university”.
Ellie Redpath, Chair of Oxford SU Women’s Campaign, was critical of the question on Twitter. Ms Redpath told The Blue: “With this question, Oxmatch appears to be equating whether or not you support LGBTQ+ rights with trivial questions such as what kind of music you like or what subject you’d like your match to be studying. It’s upsetting that homophobic and transphobic views are being normalised by this question, and it’s also upsetting to think about people being matched on the basis that they are both homophobic. Frankly it’s not good enough that Oxmatch included this question, and is now refusing to listen to the LGBTQ+ students who are taking issue with it”.
As of 17:30 on Saturday the 8th of May, the question was still included on the questionnaire.
This is not the first incident involving OxMatch which has caused controversy, with the site previously being accused of breaching data protection law.
The LGBTQ Society was contacted for comment, but decline to give further comment beyond their statement.
The LGBTQ Society has stated those affected by issues raised in this article can contact the Society’s welfare officers at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. Support is also available from the Switchboard LGBTQ+ helpline at https://switchboard.lgbt/ for “confidential support from trained LGBTQ+ volunteers between 10 am-10 pm”.
Image credits: Screenshot made from OxMatch Questionnaire.