HRC Blog

Senator Leahy Includes LGBT Community in VAWA Bill

Today, Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Mike Crapo (R-ID) introduced a bill to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), an act first passed in 1994 that addresses domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking. For the first time, the bill acknowledges and addresses the discrimination faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) victims of domestic violence.

LGBT people experience domestic violence at roughly the same rates as everyone else.  However, LGBT victims are often denied access to domestic violence services, turned away from shelters, mis-arrested as the primary aggressor and denied orders of protection because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.  The bill recognizes that the LGBT community is an underserved population and allows service providers access to grant money for programs that target the community.  As part of the STOP grant program, the largest grant program in VAWA, the bill makes funds available for developing, enlarging or strengthening programs and projects to provide domestic violence services to the LGBT community.  Beyond providing grants to ensure LGBT victims of domestic violence have access to services, Senator Leahy’s bill also prohibits service providers receiving federal funds from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in the provision of services.

For nearly two years, HRC has been working with a coalition of LGBT organizations and domestic violence experts, organizations and service providers to ensure our community is included in the reauthorization of VAWA. HRC commends Senator Leahy for his commitment to ensuring that all victims of domestic violence have access to the critical and often life-sustaining services they need.

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