Domestic Abuse of LGBTQ+ People

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament am 1:19 pm ar 9 Mai 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Emma Roddick Emma Roddick Scottish National Party 1:19, 9 Mai 2024

I thank Collette Stevenson for securing this debate. I know that she has taken a special interest in this issue. Her allyship is incredibly valuable and I am sure that it is appreciated by many of her constituents, as well as the wider community.

Throughout this debate, I have felt the weight and value of the speeches by Marie McNair, Paul O’Kane, Jamie Greene and Emma Harper, particularly because, right now, LGBTQ+ rights are under sustained and constant attack—an attack that Paul O’Kane described articulately. I am grateful to Paul O’Kane and Jamie Greene for their kind comments. In times such as these, we expect comments of support from our closest allies, but I have been extremely appreciative of the comments from many colleagues, obviously those on the Labour and Green benches, but also those on the Conservative benches. I have always tried to build cross-party relationships, and I have massive respect for many MSPs across the chamber. It has been lovely to feel some reciprocation of that today.

That is perhaps most important right now, when we are considering equalities issues, be it for the LGBTQ+ community, disabled people, refugees and people seeking asylum, people who experience racism or people from many other groups that I have had the privilege to work with in Government and who are under constant public attack. Those of us who recognise the unfair and indefensible harms that are being caused to regular people who just want to live their lives and be who they are must speak up as much as we can, and across party lines. Progress is not linear and it is not guaranteed. We can, and we must not, lose ground.

The toxicity of the public debate on LGBTQ+ issues makes it harder for people to report or even acknowledge many of the harms that are being done to and experienced by queer people in Scotland. That absolutely and undoubtedly extends to domestic abuse in LGBTQ+ relationships. I have heard from people who struggle to come forward because they think that, unless the issue involves male violence directed at a woman, it will not be taken seriously or even seen as real domestic abuse. Others report feeling shame about their sexuality, which then contributes to a tendency to hide when things go wrong, in case they are outed or criticised or subject to queerphobic abuse and victim blaming. In both cases, it is clear that there is a lack of awareness about the risk of domestic abuse in LGBTQ+ relationships, as well as persistent assumptions about who carries it out and who is subject to those crimes. That contributes to a lack of reporting and an inability to seek support.

Thanks to the recent report by Dr Steven Maxwell of the University of Glasgow, we know that one in three LGBTQ+ adults suffers domestic abuse in their lifetimes, which is the same rate as heterosexual women. During my time as Minister for Equalities, Migration and Refugees, I had the pleasure of meeting Dr Maxwell at an event discussing his research, and I am glad to see it being given the attention that it deserves in the Parliament.

I know that a massive amount of hard work is being done in the third sector to address those issues, by the likes of the Equality Network, LGBT Youth Scotland, the Terence Higgins Trust and Rape Crisis Scotland. LGBTQ people such as myself will know how important raising awareness of those issues is and how far we still have to go. They will, like me, be used to people outright denying the daily experiences of LGBTQ+ people and living in happy ignorance of the homophobia and transphobia that still exist in Scotland today.

I know that the minister cares deeply about the work that she has been tasked with carrying out in relation to equally safe strategies and ending hate crime in Scotland, and I am glad to see her being asked to remain in Government to carry that on. I hope that she will reflect on the information provided by Dr Steven Maxwell and by those whom Collette Stevenson brought to Parliament and whose views she shared with the chamber, and consider what more the Scottish Government can do to ensure that all victims of domestic abuse are included in policies and strategies that are aimed at ending it.

Nobody should be subject to domestic abuse, and we cannot end it or support victims if we do not know and accept the risk to LGBTQ+ people.