The European Commission is aiming to stamp out homophobic violence by helping families of gays and lesbians support their relatives.

The Commission has funded a two year project entitled “Family Matters Supporting families to prevent violence against gay and lesbian youth” the aim of which is to prevent violence against lesbian and gay youth by supporting their families.

The project will be run by four partners: the Università del Piemonte Orientale “Amedeo Avogadro” (Dipartimento di Ricerca Sociale), families’ organisations in Italy (Agedo – Associazione Genitori di Omosessuali), UK (Fflag – Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gay men) and Spain (Ampgil – Asociaciòn de padres y madres de gays y lesbianas).

An Fflag spokesperson said the project recognises the challenges families of gays and lesbians face and will provide them with a resource for supporting their loved ones, “Lesbian and gay youth are frequently deprived of support and role models within their families, therefore they are more vulnerable, less likely to accept themselves, and more exposed to forms of violence like bullying or sexual harassment as well as self-harming.

“At the same time, families are left alone to face their own difficulties in accepting the homosexuality of one of their members, and in supporting her/him against the discrimination and violence she/he will meet outside.

In Italy a national survey (with self-administered questionnaires and in-depth interviews) will be conducted by the Department of Social Research of the University of East Piedmont with the support of Agedo. In Spain, Ampgil will collect public sector good practice for families of homosexual young people while in the UK Fflag will similarly survey the voluntary sector.

Education and information material will be produced with the aim of supporting families to become themselves a source of support for youth facing the difficulties of self-acceptance, social stigmatisation and homophobic violence.