Domestic Abuse of LGBTQ+ People

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament am 1:01 pm ar 9 Mai 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Emma Harper Emma Harper Scottish National Party 1:01, 9 Mai 2024

I welcome the opportunity to speak in the debate and I congratulate my friend and colleague, Collette Stevenson, on securing it. Collette has outlined the issue really well, so I am pleased to follow her at the beginning of LGBT+ history month.

I, too, want to start by condemning domestic abuse in all its forms, whether it is sexual assault, coercive control, psychological abuse or any other form of controlling behaviour.

The University of Glasgow has carried out a great deal of work on LGBT domestic abuse, and the findings of its report make for concerning reading. The research shows that LGBT+ people face fear of being stigmatised and disbelieved by police, support services being designed for heterosexual people and a systemic lack of LGBT+ domestic abuse knowledge and inclusion across “most services” in Scotland.

On the few inclusive services, the report recorded prolonged waiting lists and “inadequate” safe accommodation for LGBT+ people—a problem that the report’s author Dr Steven Maxwell has warned will only be worsened by impending local authority cuts. Dr Maxwell said:

“Domestic abuse experiences of LGBTQ+ victims and survivors are overlooked and unheard. One in 3 LGBTQ+ adults will experience domestic abuse in their lifetime, the same level as heterosexual women.”

We know that such abuse has a profound impact on a person’s life, so it is absolutely crucial that the Scottish Government does all that it can to get the services right for our LGBT+ community. We must deliver parity of esteem for domestic abuse services for all domestic abuse victims—of any and all sexual orientations.

There is a clear way forward to improve the current situation. According to Dr Maxwell, a number of steps could reduce the high-risk situations that LGBT+ victims experience.

The starting point is for the Scottish Government to review the national equally safe policy, which Collette Stevenson mentioned, to have it include LGBT+ domestic abuse experiences. The University of Glasgow report says that LGBT people’s experiences are “invisible” in the equally safe strategy.

The report calls for a tailored national action plan to provide “visible competent measures” to meet people’s needs. They include: stronger prevention; service inclusion messages; more inclusive safe spaces; and practitioner workforce education for health and social care staff through, for example, Turas e-learning modules. Previously, as a clinical nurse educator, I developed and delivered e-learning courses, and it seems pretty achievable for us to pursue that, so I will ask the minister whether that could be considered.

As Collette Stevenson’s motion shows, statistical publications show that 30,139 charges that had a domestic abuse identifier were reported to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service in 2022-23. The accused was male in 86 per cent of reports, which means that 4,219 women were perpetrators of domestic abuse. We need to ensure that policies such as equally safe work to support anyone who has experienced domestic abuse, because it is not a women-only problem.

One excellent example of work that is being undertaken to support LGBT+ people who are experiencing domestic abuse is the work of the charity Galop. Galop specialises in supporting victims and survivors of domestic abuse, sexual violence, hate crime, honour-based abuse, forced marriage, conversion therapies and other types of interpersonal abuse. Galop is run by LGBT+ people for LGBT+ people, and the community is at the heart of everything that it does. Galop is a fantastic organisation, and I would like to hear from the minister whether the Scottish Government could engage with it.

Enabling our LGBT+ community to be supported in cases of domestic violence is crucial, so I welcome the debate.