LGBT+ priorities for the Domestic Violence and Abuse Bill
LGBT+ priorities for the Domestic Violence and Abuse Bill
Statement from Galop, the LGBT+ anti-violence charity.
Download our statement
The Domestic Violence and Abuse Bill must recognise domestic violence is a problem for the LGBT+ community and suggest measures striving to improve the responses of all services to LGBT+ survivors, whilst also suggest measures supporting the creation, and sustainability of specialist programs and services ‘led by and for’ the communities they aim to serve.
Nik Noone, CEO of Galop, said:
“We welcome the government’s commitment to strengthen existing responses to domestic violence and abuse. The Domestic Violence and Abuse Bill is a key opportunity to improve responses of criminal justice and other statutory agencies to develop effective measures and to build trust and confidence of LGBT+ victims to come forward”.
BACKGROUND AND CURRENT STATUS:
Prevalence and experiences of abuse: Research suggests that intimate partner violence occurs with equal or higher prevalence in same-sex relationships as in opposite sex couples. For example, Stonewall UK reports 25 % of lesbian and bisexual women and 40 % of gay and bisexual men have experienced at least one incident of domestic abuse from a partner . Trans individuals are even at a higher risk, as research from Scotland demonstrates up to 80% of trans participants had experienced domestic abuse from a partner.
Barriers in access to services: LGBT+ survivors often face multiple barriers in accessing support and justice that are unique to their sexual orientation and gender identity. Services often fail to address and represent LGBT+ issues in policies and service provision, which is the main reason why LGBT+ people fear that they will be misunderstood or dismissed, or that they might receive a discriminatory response. Studies and anecdotal evidence confirms these fears are often confirmed, and far too many LGBT+ survivors are unhappy with the response they get.
Under-reporting: Approximately 60% to 80% of LGBT+ survivors, have never reported incidents to the police or try to find advice, support, or protection from organisations and services . Furthermore, SafeLives estimates nationally, 4% of MARAC cases and 1% of IDVA-supported victims identify as LGBT+ , however even in London there is considerable disparity in numbers of LGBT cases at MARAC.
Lack of specialist refuges and services: There are currently no LGBT-specific refuge services in England and less than 1% of refuges (two refuges, both located in London) provide specialist support to LGBT survivors . There are currently also no specific NOMS-accredited or other programmes for people who perpetrate domestic abuse in LGBT relationships and only two services in England (based in Manchester and Birmingham) currently provide LGBT specialist IDVA support.
This briefing, as outlined by Galop, sets out key considerations to support non-legislative measures of the Domestic Violence and Abuse Bill. Key priorities are based on knowledge and expertise developed over 10 years of supporting survivors across the greater London area. We recommend that the Bill tackles change across three main areas:
SAFE AND INCLUSIVE SERVICES
LGBT+ people may experience and range of institutional, structural and interpersonal abuses throughout their lives. These experiences will impact on how LGBT+ people understand and respond to domestic abuse. LGBT+ survivors may also be adversely affected by the lack of representation in service provision and by the ‘public story’ about DVA, which often suggests that DVA is a problem of heterosexual women experiencing physical violence from heterosexual men. This perception can affect a survivor’s decision to seek help, as they may be less likely to recognise they are experiencing or using abuse.
-The national VAWG Strategy and Statement of Expectations should include specific policy statements on the issue of LGBT+ people and domestic abuse. The statements should outline the measures local areas need to put in place to ensure their response to domestic violence recognises and addresses the barriers faced by LGBT+ people.
-The measures should mandate a compulsory and ongoing training on distinct experiences of LGBT people with domestic violence and abuse, to all working in statutory agencies and the criminal justice system. This is to ensure that health, social care and criminal justice settings are a safe and welcoming space for LGBT people to disclose abuse.
-The role of the new commissioner should include monitoring and evaluation measures to ensure all statutory agencies are providing appropriate responses and services to LGBT+ victims and perpetrators.
ACCESSIBLE SPECIALIST REFUGES AND SERVICES
LGBT+ domestic abuse survivors also face unacceptable challenges in accessing specialist refuge places. Very few are services 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 . 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 sustainable 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 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.
APPROPRIATELY FUNDED AND RESOURCED SPECIALIST LGBT+ DVA SERVICES AND PROGRAMS
Specialist LGBT+ domestic abuse services are most able to respond to the complex needs of LGBT+ people who are experiencing abuse. The specialist LGBT+ sector has developed innovative solutions and has played an essential part in addressing LGBT+ DVA , yet LGBT+ DVA specialist provision is inconsistent and often lacks sustainability due to funding or short term commissioning decisions at both local and national levels. In addition, in 2016 there were a total of 815 Full Time Equivalent (FTE) IDVAs working across England and Wales (927 individuals) out of which two are currently in post to support LGBT survivors. There are currently also no specific programmes for people who perpetrate domestic abuse in LGBT relationships.
-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, support access to victim advocacy and increase the numbers of LGBT IDVAs.
-The role of the 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 commissioner should include effective commissioning approach of CJS accredited programs as well as voluntary community based programs offering support to LGBT domestic violence perpetrators.