With LGBT community disproportionately impacted by domestic violence, new guidance is an important step in the right direction to address bias by law enforcement
WASHINGTON — Today, the Human Rights Campaign ( HRC ) the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender ( LGBT ) civil rights organization responded to new guidance issued by the Department of Justice "designed to help law enforcement agencies prevent gender bias in their response to sexual assault and domestic violence, highlighting the need for clear policies, robust training and responsive accountability systems."
"Although domestic violence affects people of every race, class and age, it can have a disproportionate impact on members of the LGBT community — many who often have less access to safety nets like shelters or who may be afraid to turn to law enforcement for help," said HRC Government Affairs Director David Stacy. "The last thing a survivor of domestic violence or sexual assault needs is to face bias due to sexual orientation or gender identity when going to the police for help. More must be done to address this challenge, but this new guidance from the Department of Justice is an important step in the right direction."
Bisexual women and transgender people face high rates of domestic violence, along with related forms of abuse including intimate partner violence and sexual assault. Bisexual women are at particularly heightened risk, with 61 percent of bisexual women experiencing rape, physical violence or stalking by an intimate partner, compared to 44 percent of lesbians and 35 percent of heterosexual women.
In 2013, Congress reauthorized the Violence Against Women Act to include explicit protections for LGBT survivors. The law now prohibits service providers from receiving federal funds to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Previously, LGBT survivors were too often denied access to domestic violence services, turned away from shelters, improperly arrested as the primary aggressor and denied orders of protection because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
In July, HRC joined more than 180 national, state, and local groups to call on the Department of Justice to release guidance for law enforcement to address gender biased policing.
The Human Rights Campaign is America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. HRC envisions a world where LGBT people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.