Task Force calls for passage of LGBT-inclusive Violence Against Women Act reauthorization bill

The Task Force applauds today’s historic introduction in the U.S. Senate of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) reauthorization bill, which for the first time includes sexual orientation and gender identity. The 1994 federal law provides funds to enhance investigation and prosecution of violent crimes such as domestic violence and sexual assault, and to bolster victim services programs. The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund, along with a broad coalition of organizations, has been lobbying for inclusion of sexual orientation and gender identity in the law.

Statement by Rea Carey, Executive Director, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force:

To be the target of domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence or stalking — whether perpetrated by a stranger or an intimate partner — is incredibly traumatic. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are not immune from this violence, and LGBT survivors’ pain and distress should not be exacerbated by a lack of adequate response from service providers or law enforcement. Reauthorization of this inclusive Violence Against Women Act will go a long way toward ensuring everyone has access to critical and life-sustaining resources. Lives are literally on the line, and our federal lawmakers should act swiftly to pass this legislation. Thank you to the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs for its leadership in making this historic moment possible.

Specific inclusion of sexual orientation and gender identity in the Violence Against Women Act is vital because:

  • In a 2010 joint report by the National Center for Victims of Crime and the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, 96 percent of victim services and law enforcement agencies said that they did not have specific services for LGBT people. In fact, studies have shown that only one in five survivors of same-gender sexual assault and intimate partner violence received victim services.
  • LGBT people experience domestic violence in 25-35 percent of relationships, which is the same rate as the general population, according to the Journal of Interpersonal Violence.
  • LGBT survivors of violence face discrimination when accessing services, including 45 percent being turned away from shelters, and 55 percent being denied orders of protection.
  • Injustice at Every Turn: A Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey, released earlier this year by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the National Center for Transgender Equality, found that one in 10 transgender and gender non-conforming respondents reported surviving sexual violence, while one in five reported experiencing violence perpetrated by a spouse or partner, parent, or other family member.