Domestic Abuse of LGBTQ+ People

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament am 1:10 pm ar 9 Mai 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Marie McNair Marie McNair Scottish National Party 1:10, 9 Mai 2024

I thank my colleague Collette Stevenson for bringing this important debate to the chamber and helping us highlight the issue of domestic abuse in LGBTQ+ relationships.

Domestic abuse knows no boundaries and follows no rules. It can happen to anyone, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. It can take many forms, be it emotional, psychological, physical or sexual abuse. It was reported that, in 2022-23, 30,139 charges were reported to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service with a domestic abuse identifier and that, in 86 per cent of those cases, the accused was male. However, Police Scotland notes that, in 2021-22, 1,691 domestic abuse incidents were recorded with same-sex victims and suspected perpetrators.

Those figures are concerning, but they highlight the possibility that LGBTQ+ domestic abuse might be going widely unreported. Societal discrimination, stigma or inequalities might be prohibiting LGBTQ+ victims of domestic abuse from coming forward to receive the support that they so greatly deserve. That is backed up by research, which notes that underreporting is common because of people not feeling safe or able to identify their experiences of abuse within typical assumptions of heterosexual dominance. Research also suggests that rates of underreporting in the LGBTQ+ population are between 60 and 80 per cent, which is consistent with the national underreporting rate of 79 per cent, according to the Office for National Statistics in 2018.

As we cannot allow fear and stigma to prevent survivors from seeking help and support, it is important that we do more to include LGBTQ+ survivors in our discussions and actions on domestic abuse. Some studies suggest that around 40 per cent of individuals in LGBTQ+ relationships might experience domestic abuse.

It has also been noted that higher rates of domestic abuse are found among those who identify as transgender. According to a Scottish Trans study, 80 per cent of transgender victims had experienced domestic abuse. That has been backed up by recent literature, which found that transgender individuals are two times more likely to experience physical abuse and almost three times more likely to experience sexual abuse than cisgender individuals. Experiencing that alongside transphobia can lead to severe and concerning mental health issues.

In tackling domestic abuse, we must also address the root causes of misogyny, homophobia and toxic masculinity, and we must challenge harmful stereotypes and attitudes that result in discrimination against LGBTQ+ people. We must also educate each other on the warning signs of domestic abuse to help break the cycle of violence. Relationships must be built on mutual respect and compassion. No one should ever be fearful of violence or coercive control within a relationship.

In reflecting on the achievements and struggles of the LGBT community throughout history, I would like to remember all those victims of domestic abuse. To those who have felt their lives shatter around them and those who have felt invisible, I say: you are not alone. In fact, I have experienced this, too, and I am here to show that we will not be silenced. I do so in recognition that it is important to speak out and empower others to do so, to recognise the signs when you are being gaslighted, bullied and manipulated, to recognise that you are strong, resilient and have the strength and support to stand up to bullies and to speak out and assert that such behaviour is wrong and not welcome in any part of this society. I am here on your side, because I have been there, too.

I again thank my colleague Collette Stevenson for bringing this important debate to the chamber.