Welsh minister: Government ‘must do more’ to improve LGBT domestic abuse services

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A Welsh minister has admitted her government “must do more” to improve the country’s domestic abuse services for LGBT people.

Research conducted on behalf of the Welsh government, published earlier this week, found that services were often geared towards heterosexual women, with many LGBT people uncertain what specific help is available.

It also identified problems with trans people being allowed entry to women-only and men-only refuges, which the report states is “a particular issue for refuges in Wales”.

Shannon Harvey, Senior Researcher at NatCen Social Research, wrote: “[The research] demonstrates how a narrow focus on the needs of heterosexual, cisgender women can leave LGBT people feeling that these services aren’t appropriate for them.

“Just as women’s experiences of violence are so often linked to gender inequality, the LGBT people we talked to explained how their experiences of domestic and sexual violence were intimately linked to their experiences of homophobia, biphobia and transphobia.

“LGBT people know that appropriate services just don’t always exist. Domestic violence services tend to be designed to respond to intimate partner violence with a male perpetrator and a female victim.

“They’re less likely to have responses designed appropriately for people experiencing domestic violence from family members on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

“More worryingly, there have been heated debates over whether trans women are ‘real’ women, and whether they should be able to access women-only services.

“Despite the legal protections for trans people, the research suggested that trans women may still be refused access to women-only domestic violence refuges.

“By working hard to defend gender-based provision, services have perhaps left themselves less open to exploring how other forms of oppression besides gender can also lead to interpersonal violence.”

Lesley Griffiths, the Welsh Minister for Local Government, said she will introduce an LGBT-inclusive bill later this month which will attempt to reform the domestic abuse services.

She wrote: “Regardless of their gender or sexuality, everyone should feel they can access free and confidential support if they are they are experiencing domestic abuse, harassment or sexual violence.

“While the research published today identifies some examples of promising practice underway in Wales, there is more we and service providers can and must do tackle this crime and to promote the support services available to all victims.

“The Bill I will be introducing later this month aims to end all instances of violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence and is crucial for everyone in Wales.”