Following the Safe as Houses conference last year, a cross-party group of MPs, alongside Stonewall Housing, has tabled an Early Day Motion highlighting the issue of domestic abuse in the LGBT community.
In the run-up to the General Election, we think it’s vital that everything be done to raise the profile of this issue so we’d like to encourage everyone to send the draft letter below to their local MPs, asking that they show their support by signing EDM 653. You can also download from www.lgbtdaf.org There is also a link to find your local MP's contact details via your postcode. Or if you already know your MP’s contact details, here is text that you can use to try to persuade them, together with a list of those MP’s who have already signed.
DRAFT TEXT AS FOLLOWS:
Re: LGBT* Domestic Abuse – Please Sign EDM #653.
Dear [Insert MP’s Name Here]
I am writing to you to express concern about the issue of domestic abuse experienced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or trans* (LGBT) people, and to ask that you show you share my concerns by signing EDM 653.
I am sure you will know that domestic abuse is a major blight on the lives of heterosexual women. Though much more can and should be done, various public bodies and the press rightly accord priority to highlighting and addressing this issue. Local, regional and national government and the police service invest in public campaigns and other initiatives to reach out to women survivors. Government has just recently announced ring-fenced of £10million funding to Local Authorities to provide women’s refuges – an essential lifeline for so many survivors.
However, I do not feel that enough is being done to address the drastically under-reported problem of domestic abuse in the LGBT* communities. There is now a wealth of evidence that reveals that domestic abuse is at least as high, if not higher, amongst sub-groups of this community. Notably:
· A Stonewall survey of lesbian and bisexual women in 2008 revealed that one in four – the same proportion as heterosexual non-trans women – experienced domestic violence.
· Another 2011 Stonewall survey of gay and bisexual men found that half of them had experienced at least one incident of domestic abuse from a family member or partner since the age of 16.
· A 2010 survey by the Scottish Trans Alliance found that domestic abuse was a concern for the majority of those surveyed.
· In 2014, the Roar survey of the experiences of LGBT domestic abuse survivors found that 70% of LGBT survivors did not report the abuse they experienced to any agency or organisation.
This abuse is committed against LGBT people by ex/partners and family members of all genders and sexualities. Abuse, particularly against the younger LGBT survivors, is frequently from family members who are intolerant of their sexual or gender identity.
LGBT people have specific needs which, sadly, are not sufficiently addressed. For instance:
· There is no specialist housing provision for LGBT survivors of a similar nature to refuge provision. Generic hostels are frequently unsafe for LGBT clients, with many survivors forced to return home or sleep rough.
· Refuge services to lesbian and bisexual women are available, but provision is patchy and is dependent on staff having received training to be able to understand risks and needs of survivors. Many services do not receive funding to provide training on this issue.
· Trans-spectrum people face discrimination and exclusion when trying to access all gender-based housing services and safe accommodation.
· Gay and Bisexual men are not able to access refuges for women, and men’s hostels do not understand risks and needs of non-heterosexual men.
· To make matters worse, there is widespread under-reporting of domestic abuse to the police amongst LGBT people, and a high proportion of those who do report it are not satisfied with the police response.
The Government has not committed funding to provide any LGBT refuge provision in any part of the UK – as they have done with respect to women’s refuges – leaving LGBT survivors at risk of further abuse. LGBT people fall through the gaps, leading to an increase in anti-social behaviour, homelessness, self-harm, suicidal ideation, and a decline of physical and mental wellbeing.
However, a cross-party group of MPs – including Sarah Champion MP (Lab), Caroline Lucas MP (Grn) and Stephen Gilbert MP (LD) – have tabled Early Day Motion (no: 653) to help highlight this problem. It asks that the Government commit ring-fenced funding for LGBT refuges and improve guidance to housing authorities to highlight LGBT-specific needs. I am writing to ask that you, as my local MP, do the following:
· Please sign Early Day Motion No: 653.
· Please write to the Communities and Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles MP highlighting my concerns, and in particular the need for ring-fenced funding to councils to provide LGBT refuges.
(INSERT YOUR NAME)
 Early Day Motion 653, Domestic Abuse in the LGBT Community. See:www.parliament.uk/edm/2014-15/653.
 Stonewall (2008), Prescription for Change: Lesbian and Bisexual Women’s Health Check.
 Stonewall (2011), Gay and Bisexual Men’s Health Survey.
 Scottish Trans Alliance (2010), Out of Sight, Out of Mind.
 Stonewall Housing, Trust for London and LGBT Domestic Abuse Forum (2014), Roar: Because silence is deadly – a report on the experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans* survivors of domestic violence and abuse.
 Stonewall, Domestic Abuse: Stonewall Health Briefing.