This report is the product of a 2009 nationwide survey of mainstream victim assistance providers and anti-violence programs serving the LGBT community. It describes widespread gaps in victim services for gay victims of crime and recommends steps to improve both the services and their accessibility.
Among its finding:
- LGBT victims do not have consistent access to culturally competent services to prevent or help victims recover from violence. For example, most respondent organizations lack outreach to gay victims, cultural competence training for staff, gay-positive/specific victim services policies and practices, and collaboration with LGBT providers.
- Mainstream victim assistance agencies do not provide a culturally sensitive response to these victims, and gay-specific anti-violence programs either lack resources to meet the need or simply do not exist. As a result, LGBT victims suffer disproportionately from violence and its aftereffects.
- Only six percent of survey respondents reported that the majority of the victims they served were LGBT people, and the types of services these agencies offer to victims differ significantly.
The National Center for Victims of Crime and the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs recommend work to:
- Build collaboration among LGBT anti-violence programs and mainstream victim assistance providers to increase the availability of culturally competent services for gay victims of crime by providing gay-specific training for criminal and civil justice system personnel and victim assistance providers.
- Assess and evaluate the implementation of state and federal protections for victims of crime and implement policy and legislative changes to assure that LGBT victims have equal access to protections.
- Increase public awareness of the extent and impact of victimization against LGBT individuals and communities and on crime victims’ rights and services through national and local public awareness, education, and outreach campaigns.
- Increase state and federal funding for collaboration, training, outreach, services, research, and data collection on the victimization of gay people.
It's even more difficult when dealing with victims of violence. Even when victims do report the violence, fear of revictimization or lack of knowledge on the part of responders may result in victims receiving services without being identified as being part of the gay community. Service providers may not have the mechanisms to properly document LGBT relationships or sexual orientation and/or gender identity.
"With this report, the National Center for Victims of Crime and the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs have taken the first step in an initiative between mainstream victim assistance providers and LGBTQ-specific anti-violence programs to increase the efficacy of outreach, prevention, justice, and direct services for LGBTQ individuals, families, and communities harmed by crime.
We invite federal, national, state, tribal, local, and individual collaborators to join us in this endeavor. This initiative must encompass cross-training and collaboration; LGBTQ-specific training for law enforcement and victim assistance agencies; more resources for LGBTQ anti-violence programs; public awareness, education, and outreach; and more consistent LGBTQ-focused research and data collection.
Advocacy to change laws and policies that address the victimization of LGBTQ people is integral to this effort to provide LGBTQ victims with equal access to victims’ rights and services."