Gay Marriage and Homoaffective Union: a terminological analysis of the social values of libraries as a source for an ethical subject representation and dissemination in Brazil

CHAVES GUIMARÃES, José Augusto and PINHO, Fabio Assis and CÂNDIDO, Gilberto Gomes and MOTTA, Bruna Gisele (2014) Gay Marriage and Homoaffective Union: a terminological analysis of the social values of libraries as a source for an ethical subject representation and dissemination in Brazil. Paper presented at: IFLA WLIC 2014 - Lyon - Libraries, Citizens, Societies: Confluence for Knowledge in Session 151 - Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer/Questioning Users Special Interest Group. In: IFLA WLIC 2014, 16-22 August 2014, Lyon, France.

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Abstract

Gay Marriage and Homoaffective Union: a terminological analysis of the social values of libraries as a source for an ethical subject representation and dissemination in Brazil

The issue of politically correctness in the representation and link of information, especially in mass media and popular science media, is becoming an ever-increasing concern due to the need to protect the rights of the diversity of citizens. In this vein, new terms are being coined in this social reality – and reflected in the bibliographic universe - to represent new and different realities in a more inclusive way (Pinho, 2010). In the case of Brazil, the legal community is using with increasing frequency the term Homoaffective Union to represent the situations of cohabitation of same-sex couples, that can even generate common rights, seeking to expand the discussion on homosexuality into the context of homoaffectivity. On a more popular level, this situation is being described as Gay Marriage. Considering the important role of librarians, in the analysis and representation of subjects as a transcultural activity of mediation of information (Garcia Gutierrez, 2002) which reflects a cultural warrant (Beghtol, 2002, 2005) and a power to name (Olson, 2002), it seems necessary to adopt an ethical approach to this issue, since it is related to values and it can serve for both the inclusion and exclusion of communities of users. However, the question remains: to what extent indexing languages, as tools used for this mediating activity, allow an appropriate and inclusive representation of this topic while also ensuring precision in the information retrieval by the user. For this, we analyzed the incidence of the terms “gay marriage” and “homo-affective union” in two Brazilian informational realities: the databases of two of the largest newspapers in the country -Folha de São Paulo and O Estado de São Paulo- and the largest scientific bibliographic database in the country, SciELO, between 2003 and 2012. The collection process considered and statistically analyzed the occurrence of terms in the titles and their adjacent terms. These data were compared with the three main indexing languages in the country: Vocabulário Controlado Básico do Senado Federal (Basic Controlled Vocabulary of the Federal Senate), Vocabulário Controlado da Universidade de São Paulo (Controlled Vocabulary of University of São Paulo), and Terminologia de Assuntos da Fundação Biblioteca Nacional (Terminology of subjects of the National Library Foundation). The results showed, first, a high rate of prejudicial connotations in the analyzed literature, from the adjacent terms that qualify the two terms; and secondly, a low degree of specificity of the indexing languages in these topics, leading to very general and imprecise representations. These aspects may lead the users of these communities to a double exclusion when seeking information, confirming the necessity of assuming an ethical commitment to diversity in the subject representation of information in order to effectively achieve the desired metavalue of the library profession: an effective access to information (Vaagan, 2002).

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