Homophobic ‘honour’ abuse experienced by South Asian gay men in England

Khan, Roxanne orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-3485-2450 and Lowe, Michelle (2019) Homophobic ‘honour’ abuse experienced by South Asian gay men in England. In: Men, Masculinities and Honour-Based Violence. Routledge. ISBN 9780429277726

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“After protracted detention and torture, the detainees were released to families, and at least some were subjected to further humiliation by being forced to “confess and repent” in front of their elder male relatives … . Officials then shamed the relatives for having gay family members and made the relatives shame the victims, thereby fuelling a climate in which family abuse, including honor killings, might occur”
(Andreevskikh, 2017).

Since April 2017, media groups across Europe have reported on what has been called a “gay genocide” and “antigay purge” in Chechnya; it is alleged that men, suspected of being gay, have been victimised by the authorities and been threatened with so called ‘honour’ killings by their families (Beard, 2018; Castro, 2019; Human Rights Watch, 2017). Further disconcerting is that homophobic ‘honour’ based violence is reported in other countries where homosexuality is condemned or considered ‘a sin’ - this includes South Asian nations where same-sex sexual activity is not only taboo but a criminal offence with a maximum penalty of life imprisonment (Carroll & Mendos, 2017).
With a focus on female victims, studies with South Asian and Middle Eastern populations have identified a range of sociodemographic factors that explain why some people endorse ‘honour’ abuse and killings (e.g., Eisner & Ghuneim, 2013; Gengler, Alkazemi, & Alsharekh, 2018; Khan, 2018; Lowe, Khan, Thanzami, Barzy, & Karmaliani, 2018). As the victimisation of girls and women is far more frequent, this has attracted a greater share of scholarly and public interest. Investigations into homonegative ‘honour’ based victimisation are still sparse (Khan, Hall & Lowe, 2017; Lowe, Khan, Thanzami, Barzy, & Karmaliani, 2019). Thus, very little is known about the psychological, social and cultural factors associated with different types of ‘honour’ abuse specific to gay men of South Asian origin in England.
To gain insight into lived realities and perceptions of homophobic honour abuse, this chapter draws together the fragmented literature in this area to provide a context for qualitative data collected from 10 South Asian gay men living in England. Using an online questionnaire, three themes were explored, including: (1) respondents’ demographic, social and familial background; (2) the homophobic victimisation experienced and witnessed and how this affected respondents’ psychosocial wellbeing; (3) perceptions of the efficacy of emergency services and welfare agencies to respond to homonegative ‘honour’ abuse. These findings indicate that extensive work needs to be undertaken to improve awareness of the difficulties faced by gay South Asian males at risk of ‘honour’ abuse and violence in the UK.

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