• Zero Tolerance: Gender-based violence and hate crime within LGBT+ communities

    By Kitt Burt

    Bristol Zero Tolerance is hoping to find out more about gender-based violence within LGBT+ communities. We are aware that often this part of society is overlooked, and gender-based violence services may therefore, not be as accessible to LGBT+ communities as they could be. We hope to bring together all sectors of LGBT+ communities to help us learn more about how Bristol can combat gender-based violence, and how this can be inclusive of local LGBT+ people. We also want to learn more about how gender-based violence effects the LGBT+ community, why services are often inaccessible, and why this topic often isn’t spoken about.

    The Galop Hate Crime Report, 2016 found that 4 out of 5 LGBT+ people had experienced hate crime, but only a quarter of LGBT+ people reported the last hate crime they experienced. Common barriers to reporting included feeling it would not produce a result, being unsure if it was a crime, and feeling it would not be treated seriously – these are barriers that Zero Tolerance aims to break down. The Diversity Trust LGBT+ report on domestic violence and abuse, 2016 found that there is a lack of awareness that domestic abuse can occur in same-sex relationships. Service providers acknowledge a lack of LGBT+ outreach. LGBT+ people face difficulty in coming to terms with domestic abuse, and LGBT+ people may be deterred from accessing services based on broader experiences of discrimination or because they fear that other services will assume their gender identity and / or sexual orientation. Domestic abuse services tend to follow a gender specific, ‘women-only’ or ‘men-only’, model that can be problematic for some trans, intersex, and gender-neutral people. Refuge providers are legally bound to accept people in their recognised gender but in practice it can be more difficult to find emergency shelter accommodation for trans people. For example, trans women may be excluded from ‘women-only’ spaces because they were assigned male at birth. LGBT+ young people who face rejection and abuse from their families also find it difficult to seek help from services that don’t cater to their age range. This can leave them in dangerous situations with limited support. Furthermore, the threat of being ‘outed’ by reporting abuse within a same-sex relationship may also deter LGBT+ people from reporting the crime. The Galop report found that 40% of those who did report hate crime did not find the process easy, mostly due to the perception that justice professionals had not received training on LGBT+ issues. This makes it clear that there is a lack of specific training about abuse in LGBT+ communities for service providers – this is a huge barrier with needs to be addressed.

    This research has solidified just how important it is for trans women to be included in discussions about gender-based violence. Often excluded from ‘women-only’ spaces, trans women, and those who don’t identify within the gender binary, often don’t access the support they need. This can have devastating effects. Hate crime is often targeted towards the trans community, and there has been a 170% increase in the reporting of transphobic hate crimes in the UK since 2011, much of this is directed towards trans women. It is important to remember that this is only a fraction of such cases, as thousands go unreported. Support services need to take these figures into account, and assure that their services are inclusive for the many trans women facing gender-based violence.



    Similarly, people in same-sex relationships are often not reporting gender-based violence, or feeling unsatisfied with the results of reporting. Galop found that only 31% of hate crimes experienced by lesbians are reported, and only 25% of hate crimes experienced by gay men. Many people who experience gender-based violence within a same-sex relationship also don’t report because they are unsure if it is a crime, and some fear a negative reaction, or lack of understanding towards their identity if they do report the crime. This shows us that everyone within gender-based violence support work needs to be educated about the diversity of relationships and identities so that those in same-sex relationships also understand that they can be effected by gender-based violence. When running workshops about gender-based violence it is important that projects like Bristol Zero Tolerance include a diverse range of examples, and show that they are accepting of all identities and relationships. It is also vital that no organisations show judgment towards those reporting hate crimes; acceptance, understanding, and compassion are all vital when vulnerable minorities are reporting gender-based violence.

    With these findings, we want to work with LGBT+ people to find out the best ways to overcome the barriers they face when accessing local services. We hope to attend some LGBT+ group meetings, and possibly hold an event in partnership to bring these groups together to discuss the issues around a series of questions such as:

    • What would Bristol becoming a city with a zero tolerance to LGBT+ gender-based violence, abuse, harassment, and exploitation mean to you?
    • What would a Zero Tolerance Bristol look like?
    • What needs to change to make Bristol an LGBT+ friendly, Zero Tolerance City?
    • How can we make sure Bristol Zero Tolerance is inclusive of LGBT+ people?
    • What barriers currently face LGBT+ people from seeking support for gender-based violence in Bristol? How can these barriers be broken down?

    The answers to these questions will help us to improve local services and understanding about LGBT+ communities and gender-based violence. We hope that this work will help to improve the quality of, and access to hate crime and gender-based violence services for LGBT+ people across Bristol. Everyone who has faced gender-based violence deserves an equal opportunity to access help and support. Bristol Zero Tolerance wants to learn from the people who are actually effected so that we can learn how best to support you.


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