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Can you be sued for defamation for calling someone "homophobic" if they use a derogatory term

Brooklyn, NY |

In an online discussion, I made the remark that someone had been 'openly homophobic', obliquely referencing an incident where he used a derogatory term for a gay person in another online discussion. i did not name the person who used the derogatory term. can i be sued for defamation?

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Attorney answers 6


Anyone can be sued but it does not sound like a good case. One, you didn't name the person. Two, truth is a defense (print out the earlier discussion. Three, you may have an opinion defense.

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Technically, anybody can be sued for anything, but that doesn't mean it has merit or will get very far. Calling someone homophobic is an opinion, its not actionable

This is general advice and does not establish an attorney-client relationship.


Anyone can sue anyone, but the question always comes down to whether they will win. These cases are typically taken on an hourly retainer. Unless the person has $10,000 to burn it is doubtful.

Mr. Pascale is licensed to practice law in the State of New York. The response herein is not legal advice and does not create an attorney/client relationship. The response is in the form of legal education and is intended to provide general information about the matter within the question. Oftentimes the question does not include significant and important facts and time-lines that, if known, could significantly change the reply and make it unsuitable. Mr. Pascale strongly advises the questioner to confer with an attorney in their state in order to insure proper advice is received.


An opinion cannot form the basis of a claim for defamation, since expressions of an opinion false or not, libelous or not, are constitutionally protected and may not be the subject of private actions. There are a number of other reasons you are safe, also mentioned by the other attorneys.

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This is an opinion, not a false statement of fact required for defamation


As stated, "you can be sued for anything." From the limited information it sounds like your opinion and not a statement of fact. While you say you didn't name the person, if it was an online discussion and you were referring to an offline event, then those in the online discussion would have no way of knowing who you were referring to - again, in your favor.

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