Senate Judiciary Committee Approves LGBT-Inclusive Anti-Violence Bill

by HRC Staff

Senate Committee Recognize Barriers Faced by LGBT Victims of Domestic Violence


Washington– The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization, today praised the Senate Judiciary Committee’s approval of the LGBT-inclusive reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).  The reauthorization bill would make grants available for strengthening and enlarging programs to provide outreach and services to LGBT victims of domestic violence.  In addition, the bill would prohibit grantees of VAWA funds from discriminating against survivors because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

“Victims of domestic violence need assistance, not irrational barriers based on their sexual orientation or gender identity,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese. “We thank the members of the Judiciary Committee that have recognized the discrimination LGBT domestic violence victims face when seeking assistance. Specifically, Chairman Leahy has shown great leadership in reauthorizing VAWA and ensuring that the bill would explicitly make grants available for service providers doing innovative work with LGBT victims.”

Studies indicate that LGBT people experience domestic violence at roughly the same rate as the general population.  Unfortunately, many LGBT victims are not receiving the services they need because service providers and law enforcement are not engaged in outreach to the LGBT community, lack the cultural competency to effectively work with LGBT victims or do not have funding to provide culturally competent services. 

According to a survey of service providers that work with LGBT victims, 85% report they have worked with an LGBT victim that was denied services because of his or her sexual orientation or gender identity.  Of those advocates that had worked with an LGBT victim that had been denied services, 91% had worked with victims that had been denied direct services from a mainstream domestic violence organization and 64% had worked with victims that had been denied services from law enforcement.  The survey was conducted by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs.

The bipartisan Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act was introduced in the 112th Congress by Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Mike Crapo (R-ID).  The bill passed through the Judiciary Committee on a party line vote.  The Human Rights Campaign worked closely with other LGBT groups, service providers and the broader VAWA Reauthorization Task Force to identify gaps in the current VAWA and to recommend appropriate policy changes to address them. 

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.

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