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Preventing violence against LGBTIQ people

Family violence against LGBTIQ people is driven by homophobia, biphobia, transphobia and intersex-phobia, alongside gender inequality. To prevent this violence, we must work to challenge all of these forms of discrimination and oppression. 

Family violence against LGBTIQ people

Perpetrators of family violence against LGBTIQ people include parents and carers, siblings, children, including adult children, and partners or ex-partners. 

Violence in LGBTIQ intimate partner relationships occurs at similar rates to that within heterosexual relationships—and the types of violence are also similar. 

In addition, LGBTIQ people can experience unique forms of family violence, including threats of ‘outing’, shaming of LGBTIQ identity or– for those who are HIV-positive or taking hormones to affirm their gender – withholding of hormones or medication. 

What causes family violence against LGBTIQ people?

Gender inequality drives violence against heterosexual women and  LGBTIQ people – but not on its own, or in the same ways. 

Perpetrators of family violence against LGBTIQ people rely on gender inequality – particularly, the social policing of ‘correct’ and ‘incorrect’ gender identities and expressions – to exert and maintain power and control. 

But family violence experienced by LGBTIQ people must also be understood in light of the additional discrimination and oppression faced by LGBTIQ people. This discrimination and oppression stems from ‘hetero-normativity’* and ‘cis-normativity’^ and can take the form of homophobia, biphobia, transphobia and intersexphobia. When LGBTIQ people are devalued in this way, violence against them can be normalised or accepted. 

These drivers of violence can be experienced on a number of levels – from the interpersonal to the institutional. 

Pride in Prevention, Rainbow Health Victoria’s guide to preventing family violence against LGBTIQ people, offers this model for understanding the drivers of family violence against LGBTIQ people. 

Preventing family violence against LGBTIQ people

Research has identified the following principles as essential to the prevention of family violence against LGBTIQ people. 

  • Engage LGBTIQ people in the planning, design and implementation of all prevention efforts.  
  • Address the drivers of violence against LGBTIQ people. This requires addressing gender inequality and homophobia/transphobia.  
  • Adopt an intersectional approach that acknowledges and responds to the diversity and diverse needs within LGBTIQ communities. This is necessary, as many people from LGBTIQ communities are likely to experience multiple and compounding forms of discrimination and oppression – such as those relating to racism and ableism.
  • Ensure planning allows time, space and resources for critical reflection – including reflecting on your own experiences of power and privilege. 
  • Partner or align with other prevention efforts to maximise effectiveness. 
  • Be evidence-based and evidence-building. Prevention of family violence against LGBTIQ people is an emerging area, so there is a pressing need to invest in evaluation, and to build and share evidence of what works. 

* the privileging of heterosexual relationships as ‘natural’ and ‘normal’. 

^ the privileging is ‘cis’ identities, or people who feel their sex assigned at birth ‘matches’ their gender identity, as ‘natural’ and ‘normal’. 

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