When 25-year-old Zaya first discussed her attraction for women with her sister after breaking up with a girlfriend two years ago, she never expected the violence that followed.
During a heated argument at the family home in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia’s sprawling capital, her sister shouted at their father that his youngest daughter was a “pervert” and a lesbian. “When he heard this, my father beat me up so bad I had bruises and cuts all over my face and my back and could barely move. After this I left home to live with a friend,” Zaya recalled.
Her father eventually apologized to her but asked her to promise she wasn’t a lesbian. “So I told him I wasn’t and went back home. I’ve been living a lie with my father ever since.”
Despite the trauma she endured, Zaya feels many other lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people living in Mongolia have had it much worse. She proceeded to recount a series of stories of friends who have been physically attacked and even sexually assaulted.
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Pearly Jacob is an Ulaanbaatar-based freelance journalist.