In some member states, being gay or lesbian is viewed as a “betrayal” of national values and unity. Such arguments may be grounded on a specific understanding of the nation or the state which aims to preserve the homogeneity of the nation. For example, an interlocutor from the authorities explained that in Armenia being homosexual is often seen as disloyal to the traditional values of the Armenian people.
“Double discrimination” and violence in the family
The family may be experienced by LGBT persons as an institution of immediate social control. This imposes expectations on the gender roles of boys and girls alike, which can be problematic for LGBT children who do not meet them. NGO representatives in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey stressed the double discrimination facing lesbians and bisexual women in those states. As women, they are expected to marry and have children, and until they do they must come home directly from the workplace and not go out alone. Family honour is an influential concept. [Unzipped: Gay Armenia - with regards to marriage expectations, same applies to men.]
While many LGBT persons meet acceptance and respect in the family, many others may have to hide their sexual orientation from family members because they are afraid of bad repercussions. Systematically collected data on the scale of the problem are unavailable, but NGOs report the following: in France, 16% of LGBT persons reported they had been beaten at home by homophobic family members. Homophobic violence in the family was also reported by lesbian and bisexual women in, among others, Georgia and Azerbaijan.
An NGO report on Azerbaijan in 2009 stated that the “most frank displays of violence against lesbian and bisexual women occur in the home, and include verbal and physical abuse, confinement indoors, compulsion, compulsory marriage” as well as the threat of crimes to avenge family honour. The prevalence of domestic violence against LGBT persons is difficult to assess, but LGBT NGOs described family pressure, harassment, control and, in some cases, violence as invisible or under-reported. More research is needed to identify the level of violence or rejection LGBT people experience in their families. A positive recent development in this regard is the adopted Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, as it will also apply to lesbian, bisexual and transgender women.
In Georgia, NGO research demonstrates that 87% of LGB persons conceal their sexual orientation to their families.
*Read also: Groundbreaking Council of Europe report issues ‘red cards’ to many member states, incl. Armenia, for failing gay rights
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