People who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer

GLBTIQ (or gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer) encompasses people whose sexual orientation, gender identity or sex differ from heterosexual or male-female sex and gender norms. As in the broader community, the identities and experiences of people in these communities are enormously diverse and influenced by factors such as age, ethnicity, migration experience, geographical location, disability, and socio-economic status. There is however a disproportionate number of GLBTIQ people who experience poorer health than other groups in the Australian community, in particular mental ill health and suicide, which may be due to their fear of or actual discrimination, ‘outing’, violence, abuse, or exclusion. Research also identifies a greater prevalence of other risk factors for GLBTIQ people including more harmful and frequent use of alcohol and other drugs, homelessness and poverty, disengagement from schooling, and chronic health disorders.

A submission to the 2015 Victorian Royal Commission into domestic violence highlights the need for more extensive research and a better understanding of GLBTIQ people’s experiences of domestic and family violence. Of the research that has been conducted over recent years findings suggest that the incidence of this form of violence in GLBTIQ communities is similar to that experienced in the broader community, though specific data for transgender and intersex people is lacking.Other findings suggest possible differences and vulnerabilities particular to GLBTIQ people in their experience of domestic and family violence, including:

  • There is likely to be a higher proportion of men as victims and women as perpetrators than in the general population
  • Heterosexual stereotypes about men and women may result in false assumptions that, for example, lesbian women are not capable of physical violence, or gay men are not masculine
  • While all forms of violence may be experienced, there may be some differences in the perpetrator’s behaviours, for example, threatening to out or actually outing the victim in terms of their sexuality or HIV status, withholding hormone treatments, preventing participation in GLBTIQ events, name calling, ridicule and public humiliation
  • Parents, siblings and other family members may also be perpetrators of violence, especially towards young GLBTIQ people
  • GLBTIQ people may be less likely to identify the behaviour they experience as violence, and they may be less likely to report the behaviour or seek the help they need for fear of ostracism and discrimination; a negative response from the police and courts; escalating the violence; being ‘outed’; being disbelieved or blamed; or due to personal feelings of shame or embarrassment or a need to protect the perpetrator or the relationship
  • Lesbian abusers may seek to access women’s shelters or support groups already accessed by their partner in order to continue perpetrating violence against their partner
  • Mainstream services, including refuges and court assistance and counselling, may not be well developed to understand and meet the complex and diverse needs of GLBTIQ victims and perpetrators and appropriate services may be unavailable.