Updated: Jul 20, 2022
Domestic Abuse Bill, Second Reading, 28 April 2020
To meet the needs of LGBT+ people in the Bill and its associated programme of work the Domestic Abuse Bill must:
Recognise that LGBT+ people are at particular risk of experiencing domestic abuse and facing distinct barriers in access to services.
Ensure that any legislation, policy and commissioning arising from the measures of the Bill clearly recognizes and respond to the needs, experiences and distinct barriers that LGBT+ survivors face in accessing support.
Set out clearly, the role of the Domestic Abuse Commissioner in supporting and holding all statutory agencies to account in appropriately meeting the needs of LGBT+ survivors.
Provide long-term ring-fenced funding to ensure sustainability and expansion of local LGBT+ services delivering specialist support to LGBT+ survivors.
Lesbian, gay, bi and trans (LGBT+) people experience disproportionately high rates of domestic abuse in Britain today. Despite this higher prevalence of abuse, LGBT+ survivors experience multiple barriers to accessing support services.
The Domestic Abuse Bill and its accompanying programme of work present a prime opportunity to increase awareness of LGBT+ experiences of domestic abuse and to increase provision of support, including specialist LGBT+ domestic abuse services, so that every LGBT+ person can access support when they need it.
LGBT+ people’s experiences of domestic abuse
Prevalence of abuse
Research from Stonewall and YouGov in 2018 found that 11 per cent of LGBT+ people – including 13 per cent of bi women, and 19 per cent of trans and non-binary people – have experienced domestic abuse in the last year. This is twice as high as for the overall population (4.5 per cent, as recorded by the Crime Survey for England and Wales in 2018).
Bisexual women are nearly twice as likely to have experienced partner abuse in the last 12 months than heterosexual women (10.9 per cent compared with 6.0 per cent) (ONS, 2018).
ONS (2016) statistics suggest that more than one in four (27.5 per cent) gay men and lesbian women and more than one in three (37.3 per cent) bisexual people report at least one form of domestic abuse since the age of 16.
Like the wider population, LGBT+ people are unlikely to report the abuse to the police. Research suggests that 78 per cent of gay and bi men (Stonewall, 2013) and 80 per cent of lesbians and bi women (Stonewall, 2008) who have experienced domestic abuse have never reported incidents to the police. The figure for trans survivors, whose experiences are significantly under-researched, is likely to be similarly high.
“Your dad takes you to one side and tells you to get a grip, to be a man and act like one. There are no trannys in our family he says.”Suzie, trans survivor of domestic abuse (SafeLives, 2018)
“When I first got in contact with the police around the experience I was having with DV… I got laughed at and I think that was about the police officer at the time not recognising perhaps that DV happens in same-sex relationships.”Berkeley Wild, Founder and Director of the Diversity Trust
Barriers in access to services
Research from Galop (2018, 2019) found that many LGBT+ survivors of domestic abuse experience distinct barriers due to their sexual orientation and/or gender identity when trying to access support services.
Discrimination against LGBT+ people in society remains common. Many domestic abuse services have not been equipped to meet the needs of LGBT+ survivors in policies and service provision. Many LGBT+ survivors may assume (based on past experience or anecdotes from others), that services will not be inclusive, or may in fact be actively discriminatory. This can deter LGBT+ people from seeking support, regardless of whether a service is in fact inclusive (Galop, 2019).
Evidence suggests that LGBT+ survivors are not accessing services at the same rate as others in the population. SafeLives’ national dataset found that just 2.5 per cent of people accessing support from Insights domestic abuse services identified as LGBT+; far lower than would be expected for a group at particular risk of experiencing abuse (SafeLives, 2018).
Absence of specialist provision
Research from Galop (2019) found LGBT+ specialist domestic abuse services are largely unavailable within many local authority areas in England and Wales.
By the end of June 2019, there were only six voluntary sector providers delivering LGBT+ specialist support based in Birmingham, Brighton & Hove, London and Manchester. These services often work outside of their geographical remit and beyond their capacity (Galop, 2019).
Alongside ensuring that mainstream services are LGBT-inclusive, well-resourced specialist LGBT+ support plays a vital role in breaking down barriers to accessing services for LGBT+ survivors and delivering effective support. Where they are successfully integrated into a domestic abuse service, LGBT+ specialist programs can also have a wider positive impact on a service, as well as survivors (Galop, 2019).
“Most of the time refuges are not available or not willing to support LGBT+ survivors. It’s also always a challenge to find long-term support, especially outside of London. Another thing is the court system. There is simply not enough understanding of specific circumstances of LGBT+ survivors, especially around the issue of privacy and coming out.”LGBT+ Independent Domestic Violence Advisor – quoted in Galop – Recognise & Respond
Map showing LGBT+ specialist domestic abuse services in England and Wales (Galop, 2019)
Galop is the UK’s LGBT+ anti-violence charity. For over 35 years we have been providing advice, support and advocacy to LGBT+ survivors and campaigning to end anti-LGBT+ abuse and discrimination. Galop works around 3 key areas: hate crime, domestic abuse and sexual violence. Our mission is to make life safe, just and fair for LGBT+ people.
For more information, contact: Jasna Magić, LGBT+ Domestic Abuse Research and Policy development – email@example.com
SafeLives are a national charity dedicated to ending domestic abuse, for good. We combine insight from services, survivors and statistics to support people to become safe, well and rebuild their lives.
For more information, contact: Jess Asato, Head of Public Affairs and Policy – firstname.lastname@example.org
Stonewall is the UK’s largest LGBT organisation. We work to ensure that laws and rights essential for LGBT equality are created, maintained, protected and defended, so that LGBT people have equal rights here and abroad.
For more information, contact: Laura Russell, Interim Director of Campaigns, Policy and Research – email@example.com