More than half of Japan’s lesbians, bisexual women and trans* people who have experienced some form of abuse have considered suicide, according to a Tokyo-based citizens' group.
The survey to focus exclusively on lesbians, bisexual women and transgender individuals was conducted by Gay Japan News -- involved in making policy recommendations for sexual minority rights in the country.
It had conducted an interview survey of 50 such people in six different regions across the country.
The survey sample though small is one of very few surveys pertaining to this group and has revealed both the lack of understanding and the scarcity of support for such persons in Japan.
The survey between November 2010 and March 2012 was part of a broader initiative conducted by the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) in five Asian countries.
Of those interviewed in Japan, 27 said they had considered suicide, with five having actually attempted it. One respondent did commit suicide six months after being interviewed.
Twenty-eight interviewees reported having been subjected to sexual abuse while others reported either emotional or physical abuse.
One female to male transgender person reported being forcibly stripped as a high school student because a group of girls wanted to know his sex. A male to female transgender person recounted: “After I had breast augmentation surgery, my uncle touched my chest repeatedly, just because he was curious."
The highest rate of abuse reported was emotional with 31 individuals citing some or other form of discrimination. A female to male transgender individual recounted how the mother of his woman partner accusingly called their relationship “disgusting." A lesbian reported how her parents kept trying to persuade her to seek psychiatric care to “cure my homosexuality."
All of the 50 interviewed reported having experienced depression, low self-esteem, and/or engaging in self-harm as a result of being subjected to abuse.
Ten of the interviewees said that they had never sought assistance because they believed they would never be understood by others. Those who did seek help from either doctors or counselors said advice given was so prejudiced against them that it only served to cause them further pain.
The recent IGLHRC report "Violence Through the Lens of Lesbians, Bisexual Women and Trans (LBT) Individuals in Asia" documented serious issues of violence and exclusion that LBT women face in every sphere of their lives in Japan, Malaysia, Pakistan, Philippines, and Sri Lanka. In Japan, 70 percent of LGBT youth have experienced bullying in school and 30 percent have considered suicide and self-harm.