LGBT+ priorities for the Domestic Abuse Bill
We were very pleased to see that the Domestic Abuse Bill recently passed its second reading in the House of Commons. A motion was also passed that guarantees the bill will not fall if it isn’t complete by the time the current Parliamentary session ends, but will continue in the next session.
We want to take the opportunity of this news to re-state our key priorities & recommendations for bill to support LGBT+ Survivors;
Access to services
All services are responsible to ensure that all victims and survivors of domestic abuse can access safe and quality support. However, many LGBT+ survivors have difficulty finding culturally competent and non-traumatizing support due barriers that exist on the level of service delivery and provision.
- The national VAWG Strategy and Statement of Expectations should include specific policy statements on the issue of LGBT+ people and domestic abuse.
- These mechanisms should explicitly outline the measures local areas need to put in place to ensure their response to domestic violence recognises and addresses the barriers facing LGBT+ communities.
- The role of the Domestic Abuse Commissioner should include monitoring and evaluation measures to ensure all statutory agencies are providing appropriate responses and services to LGBT+ victims and perpetrators.
Emergency housing, refuge accommodation and support
LGBT+ domestic abuse survivors face unacceptable challenges in accessing emergency housing or specialist refuge places. Housing providers do not always recognise that they have a duty towards LGBT+ survivors. In addition, very few services are specifically designed for lesbian and bisexual women and even fewer for transgender women/men. Practice also suggests women-focused services might refuse support based on gender identity or perceived gender identity. For example, trans women fleeing from domestic abuse are routinely refused refuge places or are being asked if they are “pre or post op” before being offered a place. There is also a significant gap in terms of refuge provision for gay and bisexual men fleeing violence and abuse as most refuge spaces are for women and children.
- The Bill should introduce measures to meet the level of need nationally and ensure that there is safe and accessible refuge and support accommodation for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people who are escaping abuse, including LGBT+ people with no recourse to public funds.
- The role of the Domestic Abuse Commissioner should provide clear guidance for refuge and housing providers to ensure LGBT+ people who are fleeing domestic abuse are able to access appropriate, safe accommodation.
Commissioning and funding of specialist LGBT+ domestic abuse services and programs
Specialist LGBT+ domestic abuse services are most able to respond to the needs of LGBT+ people who are experiencing abuse and are more likely to have the trust and confidence of LGBT+ victims/survivors who face multiple barriers to accessing services. The specialist LGBT+ sector has developed innovative solutions and has played an essential part in addressing LGBT+ domestic abuse. LGBT+ specialist organisations also play a critical role in providing knowledge and understanding about transforming services, yet LGBT+ specialist provision across England and Wales is inconsistent and often lacks sustainability.
- The Bill should ensure services delivering specialist support to LGBT+ survivors should be appropriately resourced and supported by long-term funding which enables and includes evaluation of program impact and outcomes.
- The measures should include specific actions aimed at assessing the needs of high-risk LGBT+ survivors to support the increase in numbers of LGBT+ IDVAs.
- The role of the Domestic Abuse Commissioner should include effective commissioning approach of specialist services including measures on how to commission LGBT+ specialist services and/or to ensure that services effectively meet the needs of LGBT+ survivors.
- The role of the Domestic Abuse Commissioner should include effective commissioning approach of CJS accredited programs as well as voluntary community-based programs offering support to LGBT+ domestic violence perpetrators.