Sinn Féin spokesperson on Children, Disability, Equality and Integration, Kathleen Funchion TD, has said more must be done to support LGBTQ+ women who are victims of domestic or sexual violence in Ireland.
Her comments follow her engagement with the sector, as part of her ongoing work throughout the ’16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence’ campaign to highlight how violence against women is impacting on different communities and ensure their voices are heard.
The international ’16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence’ campaign began on November 25.
Funchion said: “I want to thank LGBT Ireland for engaging with me on this vital issue- which does not receive enough attention.
“I want to commend the charity for their excellent ongoing work in helping LGBTQ+ people access essential services.
“LGBT Ireland highlighted to me a number of worrying ways in which LGBTQ+ women can experience particular distress and marginalisation through domestic and sexual violence.
“In particular, they highlighted how many lesbian women can suffer from blackmail and harassment related to the stigma of being ‘out’. This is deeply worrying.
“They also noted that the ‘one-stop shop’ introduced during the COVID-19 pandemic to support all of those experiencing domestic violence was helpful and that they would welcome it becoming a permanent fixture.
“I am aware that LGBTQ+ women can sometimes feel ‘invisible’ in discussions around domestic violence which tend to focus on heterosexual relationships. Sadly, the reality is that domestic violence can occur in any relationship, regardless of gender or sexual orientation.
“It is clear that more must be done to raise awareness about how women in same-sex relationship experience domestic abuse. LGBTQ+ women seeking support should not have to fear navigating a system which fails to take their circumstances into account.
“I will continue to raise these issues and ensure that the Government does more to support LGBTQ+ women experiencing domestic and sexual violence.
“As a society, we must send the clear message that violence in any relationship is totally unacceptable. Victims leaving an abusive relationship must receive the support they need.
“Far too often, victims are turned away from refuges due to lack of funding. The Government has a clear obligation to support victims and must ensure that these necessary support services are in place urgently.”
A United Nations study found that bisexual women were at higher risk of experiencing sexual violence and abuse compared to the rest of the LGBTQ+ community.
Several countries, including the UK, US and Canda found that bi women are most likely to experience rape, sexual assault, domestic violence, and stalking.
The intersections between gender, race and ability further determine the risk of violence an individual faces. Someone with multiple oppressions is the most likely to experience sexual violence.
LGBT Ireland provides an LGBTQ+ confidential helpline and online chat 7 days a week and Transgender family support helpline 2 days a week. Their Peer Support groups are now available online, nationwide.
LGBT Ireland has seen a huge increase in demand for their services during the pandemic. They have seen a 3-fold increase in the number of people contacting their helpline to disclose experiences of homophobic and transphobic abuse and domestic violence.
There has been a huge increase in demand for our services during the pandemic to disclose experiences of homophobic and transphobic abuse and domestic violence.
— LGBT Ireland (@LGBT_ie) December 8, 2020
Only 50% of their phone line is funded by Government sources, which means they must raise half the operational costs every year.
To help them continue to meet demand, LGBT Ireland have set up a fundraiser saying:
“We are doing everything we can with limited resources to increase the support for those who need help during this difficult time. It’s very hard to fundraise during COVID-19 but our community needs support more than ever before. Please donate and give a lifeline to the LGBTI+ community in Ireland during this difficult time.
“Every donation, big or small, will help us provide support to the LGBTI+ community.”
You can support LGBT Ireland by donating here.
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