- LGBT+ survivors ‘face distinct systemic and personal barriers in accessing help and support’.
Most local authorities in England and Wales don’t have specialist domestic abuse services for LGBT+ people.
Meanwhile housing providers do not always recognize that they have a duty towards LGBT+ survivors of domestic abuse.
Those are the warnings from UK LGBT+ hate crime charity Galop as it launches new advice to improve domestic abuse services.
The advice will help those commissioning the services and the organizations which provide them.
And it has been welcomed by both commissioners and the UK Government’s Minister for Safeguarding, Victoria Atkins.
Leni Morris, CEO, Galop, said:
‘At Galop, we see the effects of domestic abuse on LGBT+ survivors every day.
‘We know that LGBT+ people experience significant levels of domestic abuse, but face distinct systemic and personal barriers in accessing help and support.
‘This is why specialist services are so important in breaking down some of those barriers, and enabling victims and survivors to come forward and access the help that they need and deserve.
‘The role of and need for specialist domestic abuse services, run by and for LGBT+ people, must be recognized and it is vital that the development and sustainability of such services are supported.’
Galop said that by the end of June 2019, there were six organizations providing LGBT+ specialist domestic abuse support. Meanwhile four services provided Independent Domestic Violence Advisors for LGBT+ survivors.
However, the majority of local authority areas don’t have specialists who understand LGBT+ needs.
Moreover, LGBT+ people struggle to access counseling and other kinds of support.
Emergency safe spaces are limited and housing providers often do not understand their duties in LGBT+ cases.
Moreover, there aren’t programs available for LGBT+ people and family members who carry out domestic abuse.
Galop’s new guidance comes as the UK faces a second wave of lockdowns to deal with the coronavirus pandemic. That has forced many LGBT+ people to spend more time at home, which isn’t always safe for them.
Those suffering domestic abuse can legally flee home during the pandemic. However, many don’t know what services are available and the Galop report indicates many services don’t understand LGBT+ needs.
Victoria Atkins MP welcomed Galop’s new advice, saying the government has funded the organization’s work. She said:
‘I know however there are specific issues that are unique to the experiences of victims from the LGBT community – whether that is the threat of disclosure of sexual orientation or gender identity to family and friends or increased isolation due to lack of family support or safety nets.
‘That is why I am pleased that we have funded Galop £339,000 this year for their vital work supporting LGBT victims.
‘It is fantastic to see Galop’s bespoke commissioning guidance published today, which will help ensure LGBT victims and survivors are safe and supported when seeking help and rebuilding their lives.’
Meanwhile Domestic Abuse Commissioner Nicole Jacobs also welcomed the guidance. She said:
‘My hope is that this guidance will generate and inspire conversations at a local and national level about the need for specialist services and work towards long-term, sustainable LGBT+ domestic abuse provision.’
Galop’s new guide is called ‘Commissioning for inclusion: Delivering services for LGBT+ survivors of domestic abuse’.
It features checklists and practical suggestions for service providers and those who commission them.