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

LGBTIQ+ (or lesbian, gay, 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 LGBTIQ+ 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 LGBTIQ+ people including more harmful and frequent use of alcohol and other drugs, homelessness and poverty, disengagement from schooling, and chronic health disorders.

Of the research that has been conducted over recent years findings suggest that the incidence of this form of violence in LGBTIQ+ 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 LGBTIQ+ 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 LGBTIQ+ events, name calling, ridicule and public humiliation
  • Parents, siblings and other family members may also be perpetrators of violence, especially towards young LGBTIQ+ people
  • LGBTIQ+ 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 LGBTIQ+ victims and perpetrators and appropriate services may be unavailable.