Heterosexist violence exposed

Heterosexist violence exposed

04 Dec 2008

A new report lifts the lid on the shocking level of violence experienced by the Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Transgender (GLBT) community in Victoria.

The report, Coming Forward, is launched today and focuses on the responses of 390 GLBT Victorians who completed an online survey about their experiences of heterosexist* violence and same sex partner abuse. The survey also examines respondent knowledge, experience and access to services provided by the police and criminal justice system.

 “Coming Forward presents a disturbing picture of life for GLBT Victorians”, said Associate Professor Anne Mitchell, Director of Gay and Lesbian Health Victoria.

“One in seven respondents live in fear of heterosexist violence or harassment, which is not surprising as 85 per cent have experienced some form of abuse in their lifetimes.

“Seven out of ten respondents have been subject to heterosexist violence while alone in the past two years, and eight in ten have experienced heterosexist violence as part of a same-sex couple or group in the same period,” said Professor Mitchell.

Back in the closet
The survey found that the risk of violence is forcing GLBT people to hide their sexual orientation or gender identity and to modify their behaviour in public.

Young people in particular are more prone to hide their identities with 60 per cent of GLBT youth aged 14-24 hiding their identity from family and 70 per cent hiding identity when attending an educational institute.

“GLBT want to protect themselves and their families and staying in the closet is seen as a strategy to avoid violence,” said Professor Mitchell.

Eleven per cent of respondents reported that a family member, child or friend had been subject to abuse because of their association with a GLBT Victorian.

The survey found that a major barrier to GLBT Victorians reporting or seeking assistance for acts of heterosexist violence or same sex partner abuse was the belief that authorities would not take them seriously. In addition, a large number of respondents believe that reporting an incident would lead to further abuse by service providers.

“The GLBT community believes that mainstream police cannot and will not take heterosexist violence seriously and this issue must be addressed,” said Professor Mitchell.

Seven out of ten GLBT respondents did not report their most recent experience of heterosexist violence or harassment to police, while 60 per cent did not report that experience to anyone.

“Only 40 per cent of GLBT respondents to the survey who told the mainstream police of heterosexist violence or harassment found the police to be supportive and the services they provided valuable,” said Professor Mitchell.

“When GLBT Victorians had interactions with Victoria Police Gay and Lesbian Liaison Officers (GLLOs) they reported high levels of satisfaction with the support and services provided,” she said.

The survey was funded by the Victoria Law Foundation and managed through Gay and Lesbian Health Victoria (GLHV)** with assistance from Victoria Police and  was launched by the Chief Commissioner of Police, Christine Nixon at the La Trobe University City Campus.

For a copy of the report please go to the La Trobe University news website. www.latrobe.edu.au/news

*“Heterosexism” is defined as violence or harassment directed against Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgendered people.
**GLHV is located at the Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society (ARCSHS) La Trobe University and run as a consortium with the Victorian AIDS Council (VAC) and Women’s Health Victoria.

Link to report (pdf)


For media interviews, contact:

Lead author of the report,
Liam Leonard
T: (03) 9285 5262
M: 0404 010 701  
E: w.leonard@latrobe.edu.au

Associate Professor Anne Mitchell,
Director of Gay and Lesbian Health Victoria.
T: (03) 9285 5124
M: 0412 513 665
E: A.Mitchell@latrobe.edu.au




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