upset boy against a wallInternational:  For many Asian LGBT youth, homophobia starts at home with them being victims of violence from the very family that should love and care for them says a leading international human rights organization.

People in Asia who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transsexual often find themselves victims of violence from family members, who in fact are often the main perpetrators, according to a recent report by the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC).

The report by the US-based organization dedicated to improving the lives of those facing abuse on the basis of sexual orientation took three years to compile and interviewed people from Malaysia, Japan, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and the Philippines.

The high level of violence — physical, emotional and sexual — from family members was one of seven key findings and had the greatest impact on the victims, the report said.

Grace Poore, IGLHRC’s Asia program coordinator and main coordinator of the research project, said violence from family along with discrimination from outside perpetrators left LGBT youth extremely vulnerable.

“What stood out was that in countries that had a dominant religion… there was definitely greater violence. Whatever was going on outside the family seemed to be mirrored or reflected back within the family, Poore told

The report also found little or no counseling services for LGBT people in each country under study. Shelters that are LGBT-friendly also cannot openly advertise as such for fear of closure by the government and a possible backlash from the community.

human_rightsIn Malaysia, the government has an official religious department whose officials roam the streets to oversee and enforce Sharia and Islamic law for Malay people. Pakistan also has religious police, as do some 15 other countries worldwide, the report said.

“The education ministry of each state [in Malaysia] asks teachers to identify effeminate boys [who are] then rounded up and sent to camps for religious instruction,” Poore said.

More than 70 countries have laws that criminalize same-sex relations with punishment ranging from imprisonment to execution.

Malaysia, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, all former British colonies, have similar laws that criminalize same-sex relations.

Japan and the Philippines are different and do not have such laws. Nonetheless, in the Philippines despite a more recent acceptance of LGBT people, same-sex conduct or affection may be subject to the “grave scandal” prohibition in Article 200 of the Revised Penal Code.

In Japan, same-sex relations was legalized in 1880 and although Japanese culture does not have a history of hostility toward LGBT people, they nonetheless lack legal recognition and are often subjected to social discrimination. Same-sex marriage is not legally recognized in Japan.

The other countries have no laws prohibiting violence and discrimination due to sexual orientation or gender identity even though the UN has confirmed that it is illegal under international human rights law not to safeguard LGBT equality.