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Wikipedia Editors Changing Portuguese Definition of 'Lesbian' to Include Men

Editing war erupts over the word "lesbian."

Andreia Nobre
Andreia Nobre

On February 19, 2022, “No Corpo Certo” (In the Right Body) campaign found out the definition of “lesbian” has been changed on the Portuguese Wikipedia. The term lesbian, according to a screenshot of the free online encyclopedia, was being defined as “a cis or trans woman who feels attraction, sexual or romantic, exclusively to cis or trans women.”

The entry went on to say that the words "lesbianity" and "lesbianism" were used to “designate the sexual or romantic relationship or behavior between women or non-binary people (agender, demigirls, gender-fluid, etc) independently of sexual orientation, as in the phrase 'lesbian couple,' although some use the word "sapphic" to avoid bisexual erasure.”

An ideological battle seems to have ensued after that, with Wikipedia editors trying to correct the definition of lesbian in the entry. A Twitter user wrote that the entry had already been corrected a few hours earlier, and provided a screenshot of the changes. “Lesbian” was now being defined as “an adult human female who feels attraction, sexual or romantic, exclusively to other human females.” The bit about lesbianity and lesbianism was also altered and read as words used to “designate the sexual or romantic relationship or behavior between women independently of sexual orientation, as in the phrase ‘lesbian couple,’ although some use the word ‘sapphic’ which has the same meaning.”

But on February 21, only two days later, the entry was altered again, saying that a lesbian is a “woman who feels attraction, sexual or romantic, exclusively to women.” The next bit, pertaining to lesbianity and lesbianism, was changed back to what it said in the screenshot provided by “No Corpo Certo” on February 19, insisting that these words mean “the sexual or romantic relationship or behavior between women or non-binary people (agender, demigirls, gender-fluid etc.)”

Brazilian women on Twitter showed disgust and anger because of the changes. One said “We are women (females) who love only women, period!”, while another quote tweeted the screenshot and wrote “What is this aberration???” “Absurd,” “filthy” and “sex erasure” were other reactions of social media users, especially women, to the definition  of “lesbian” in the Portuguese Wikipedia.

The campaign "No Corpo Certo" told 4w.pub: "It´s a travesty that we cannot rely in Wikipedia. Everyone knows what a lesbian is, a female attracted exclusively to other females. This definition is wrong and legitimates men´s fettisches with lesbians and also the harrassment and corrective rapes that they comit against them."

Altering Wikipedia entries to suit political or ideological agendas is not new. In March 2021, during online debates on social media about the use of the term “womxn,” word went that the entry was being altered to prove that radical feminists preferred the term, as reported previously by 4W Pub.

Wikipedia founder Larry Sanger said in December 2021 that he no longer trusted the website. In an interview for Unherd, he stated that the “battle of ideas on Wikipedia’s platform” used to form a “crucial part” of their “commitment to neutrality,” which he says was “abandoned after 2009.”

“It has become increasingly partisan, primarily espousing an establishment viewpoint that increasingly represents “propaganda”, he claimed.

A lesbian woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, upon hearing about this story, spoke to 4w.pub about how does it feels for lesbian women to navigate in such hostile envrironment: "If you start your journey now, if you are a young woman discovering herself in the era of the internet,...  you might finally land on the safest of places: a dictionary, an enciclopedia, and that page will tell you what a lesbian is, it will tell you that anybody can be a lesbian, it will tell you that lesbians do sleep with men, it will tell you that your disinterest for the male genitalia does not indicate anything about you beside a traumatised mind in need of education (or rape if you want to remove the politically correct goggles)."

"Once the definition of the word lesbian no longer means female homosexual, there will no longer be a flimsy shield between us and a society that has always wanted to get rid of lesbians," she concludes.


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Andreia Nobre

Andreia is a Brazilian journalist and writer, and women and children's rights advocate. She is passionate about anthropology and cultural diversity.