The man who coined the term 'homophobia' in 1965 has died of cancer aged 86.

George Weinberg, an American psychotherapist, invented the word in the mid-1960s after a group of his colleagues asked him to disinvite his lesbian friend to a party. He described their hostility towards gay men and women as fear.

His wife Dianne Rowe confirmed the cause of his death was cancer.

The word homophobia was first printed in the underground newspaper Screw in May 1969, followed by Time magazine several months later.

Explaining the term in a scientific study, Weinberg suggested that those who hold prejudices against homosexuals did so because of a "fear of contagion", and suffer from an irrational state of mind.

Weinberg's coining of the phrase homophobia came at a time when the LGBT movement in the United States was gaining traction, most notably, with the Stonewall riots in 1969.

Weinberg's work was a fundamental part of the movement and ultimately contributed to the removal of homosexuality as a diagnostic category from the DSM, the standard classification of mental disorders.

In an editorial published in the Huffington Post in 2012, Weinberg wrote that decades after he coined the phrase homophobia, discrimination against the LGBT community is still widespread.

"Homophobia is still highly prevalent, though an increasing number of people wish it weren't. The movement for LGBT justice has made immense strides," he wrote.

"But as the therapist who coined the word "homophobia" in the late 1960s, I still see a great deal of homophobia in the world. This irrational fear of gay people still translates into violence in many cases.

"Even in the US, it still motivates people to punish gay men and women, to deprive gay people of rights, and sometimes even to kill them."