Multicultural LGBTIQ+ people face violence in their own communities, survey shows

A new study has found LGBTIQ+ people of diverse cultural and religious backgrounds often experience violence in the communities they’re meant to feel safe in.

Aisya Zaharin is a transgender Muslim woman of Malaysian origin

A transgender Muslim woman of Malaysian origin, Aisya Zaharin often feels insecure in her own community. Source: Supplied

Aisya Zaharin operates in "stealth mode" every time she visits a mosque in Brisbane.

"As a trans [person] who has female-passing privilege, I cannot tell people about my identity," the Muslim woman of Malaysian origin said.

"If I ever go [to a mosque] and tell people about my trans identity, there would be a backlash. There would be a lot of disagreement. I wouldn’t be able to actually perform my praying duty because they would consider my identity as invalid."

Aisya is one of the more than 100 subjects who took part in a study conducted over two years by the Melbourne-based Australian GLBTIQ Multicultural Council (AGMC). 

Aisya participated in the new study by the Australian GLBTIQ Multicultural Council.
Source: Supplied

According to the study, LGBTIQ+ people of diverse cultural and religious backgrounds living in Australia often experience violence in the same communities they’re meant to feel safe in.

Respondents from backgrounds as diverse as First Nations, Chinese, Filipino, Greek, Indian, Italian and Maori participated in the study. More than 95 in-depth surveys were filled out, 20 one-on-one interviews were conducted and participants were often divided into focus groups.

"We wanted to conduct research that could map how and where LGBTIQ+ people from multicultural and multi-faith communities experience discrimination. That’s why the report investigates across all major settings such as cultural, religious, higher education, healthcare, workplace and media settings and sites," said principal researcher Dr Maria Pallotta-Chiarolli.

One of the key findings of the report is how covert racism - rather than overt - is the primary form of violence experienced by multicultural LGBTIQ+ people living in Australia.

Almost 91 per cent of survey respondents had attended LGBTIQ+ settings and spaces in the last three years, such as pride festivals, bars, clubs and other social/sexual venues. Of those, 71 per cent experienced microaggressions and about one-third had experienced verbal aggression or felt unsafe.

About 63 per cent of survey respondents had attended a religious event, celebration or place of worship in the past three years. Though these respondents did not report overt racism and other forms of discrimination (ROFD), 25 per cent reported experiencing microaggressions or feeling unsafe in a religious setting.

Around 95 per cent of the survey participants said they were employed in some capacity. Almost two-thirds of the employed individuals experienced ROFD within their workplace, with the majority of these, 84 per cent, being microaggressions.

"Whilst overt racism was not widely reported, covert and subtle forms of racism continues to be experienced by members of multicultural and multi-faith communities," said Dr Judy Tang, a co-researcher and a Victorian Multicultural Commissioner.

"Many participants reported microaggression and feeling unsafe in LGBTIQ+ spaces and events, while those who attended cultural and faith-based spaces felt that their LGBTIQ+ identities were not fully embraced."

"We need a circuit-breaker and so we hope the recommendations and key findings from this report are used to inform policies, procedures, resources and indeed future research across all settings," AGMC President Giancarlo de Vera said.

Aisya Zaharin said a lot of people seem to consider being an LGBTIQ+ person and Muslim "mutually exclusive".

"But they’re not. We exist and we’re here to stay," she said.


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Published 27 October 2021 at 5:42pm
By Akash Arora
Source: SBS News