The Domestic Abuse Bill will be read for a third time in the House of Commons today. Together, we have worked hard to support recognition & assessment of the needs of LGBT+ survivors of domestic abuse.

Read our full joint statement, which SAYiT are proud to be a signatory to as part of the National LGBT+ Domestic Abuse Network, below:

Domestic Abuse Bill, Third Reading, July 2020.

To meet the needs of LGBT+ survivors in the Bill and its associated programme of work the Domestic Abuse Bill must:

1. Recognise that LGBT+ people are equally at risk of experiencing domestic abuse and face distinct barriers to accessing domestic abuse services, including the criminal justice system.

2. Ensure that any legislation, policy, and commissioning arising from the measures of the Bill clearly recognises and responds to the needs, experiences, and distinct barriers that LGBT+ survivors face in accessing support.

3. Ensure the Domestic Abuse Commissioner has a duty to support and hold all statutory agencies to account in appropriately meeting the needs of LGBT+ survivors.

4. Provide long-term ring-fenced funding to ensure sustainability and expansion of local LGBT+ services delivering specialist support to LGBT+ survivors.

5. Introduce a non-discrimination principle to ensure the UK is fully compliant with the Istanbul Convention and ensures LGBT+ victims have equal access to service provision.

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Introduction

1. 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.

2. 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 the provision of support, including specialist LGBT+ domestic abuse services so that every LGBT+ person can access support when they need it.

3. In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic, has exposed an acute need to address inequality and provide a more tailored response to the vulnerable and those with additional protected characteristics. We call on the Bill to introduce an accessible, fair system making long-termfunding available for specialist ‘by and for’ organisations.

Prevalence of abuse

  •  Research from Stonewall and YouGov in 2018 found that 11 percent of LGBT+ people –including 13 percent of bi women, and 19 percent 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 percent, 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 percent compared with 6.0 percent) (ONS, 2018).
  • ONS (2016) statistics suggest that more than one in four (27.5 percent) gay men and lesbian women and more than one in three (37.3 percent) bisexual people report at least one form of domestic abuse since the age of 16.
  • The figure for trans survivors, whose experiences are significantly under-researched, is likely to be similarly high.

Barriers in access to services

  • Researchsuggests that 78 percent of gay and bi men and 80 percent of lesbian and bi women who have experienced domestic abuse have never reported incidents to the police. SafeLives (2018) estimates nationally, 4% of victims at the highest risk of serious harm or murder identify, and 1% of victims supported by Independent Domestic Violence Advisors identify as LGBT+ which suggests current support isn’t reaching the victims who need it.
  • Research from Galop (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.
  • Many domestic abuse services have not been equipped to meet the needs of LGBT+ survivors in policies and service provision. very few services are specifically designed for lesbian and bisexual women and even fewer for transgender women/men (Galop, 2019).
  • 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).

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 play a vital role in breaking down barriers to accessing services for LGBT+ survivors and delivering effective support (Galop, 2019).

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This submission is led by Galop, an LGBT+ anti-violence charity and represents the views of the following organisations and individual experts.

  • Leni Morris, CEO, Galop
  •  Steven Mcintyre, CEO Stonewall Housing
  •  Jo Gough, CEO Rise
  • Steven Slack, CEO, SayIt
  • Steph Keeble, CEO, Birmingham LGBT
  • Paul Martin, CEO, LGBT Foundation
  • Nancy Kelley CEO, Stonewall
  • Susanne Jacob, CEO SafeLives
  • Prof Catherine Donovan, Durham University
  • James Rowlands – Independent Consultant and Doctoral Researcher at Sussex University
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