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Taiwanese LGBTs suffering abuse in silence

New research has shown that LGBT couples in Taiwan suffer the same rates of domestic abuse as heterosexual couples but most are unaware of their rights and do not report abuse to the authorities
A pride parade in Taiwan in 2005

A new survey of Taiwanese LGBTs has found that many have experienced abuse by a partner and most are unaware of their rights in responding to spousal abuse.

The survey was conducted by LGBT group Taiwan TongZhi Hotline Association and Taiwan’s Modern Women’s Forum and found that 35 percent of respondents had been physically or psychologically abused in a relationship, but only 11 percent of those said they would seek assistance from officials such as police or health professionals in dealing with that abuse.

42 percent of LGBT domestic violence victims said they would seek the assistance of friends or family members in dealing with abuse, while most said they feared being outed or that they would receive a homophobic response if they sought assistance through official channels.

A majority were not aware of their legal rights in abusive situations, with 58 percent of respondents saying they were unaware that the country’s Domestic Violence Prevention Act had been amended to include same sex couples in 2007.

Modern Women’s Foundation executive director Yao Shu-wen told the Taipei Times that as a result, LGBT domestic violence was vastly under-reported.

‘As many as 35 percent of the respondents said they’ve been abused by their partners, which is more or less the same as the percentage among heterosexual couples, Shu-wen said.

‘However, in the past two years, we’ve received over 20,000 reports on domestic violence, but only about 30 of the cases involve same-sex couples … the number of abuse cases reported by same-sex couples are too far below the ratio.’

Taiwan Tongzhi Hotline Association policy advocacy director Lu Hsin-chieh told the Times that better education for officials about LGBT issues would be needed before most Taiwanese gays felt comfortable seeking assistance through mainstream channels.

‘Last year alone, 45 percent of the 1,259 people who called us needed help with relationship problems, so it’s obvious that same-sex couples have problems in their relationships, but they don’t want to seek help from the official support systems,’ Hsin-chieh said.

‘Better-trained workers in support systems and more diverse education on relationship are urgently needed.’

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