Sisters Uncut

Taking direct action for domestic violence services.

Austerity is killing LGBTQ+ people; Broken Rainbow facing closure

Saturday, February 6, 2016



1 in 4 LGB and 4 out of 5 trans people are estimated to have experienced domestic violence, yet Broken Rainbow is the UK’s only LGBTQ+ specific DV service. In a society where 73% of trans people have experienced at least one form of emotionally abusive behaviour from a partner or ex partner (1), these services are a crucial lifeline for queer people, with Broken Rainbow having already helped 10,000 people this financial year alone.

Moreover, more generalised services for survivors of domestic violence are ill equipped to deal with the specificities of the effects of domestic violence for many sectors of the LGBTQ community. For instance the Equality Act 2010 specifically exempts women-only domestic violence services from legislation around trans inclusion, which has led to a general perception that these services are unavailable to trans people, especially where this intersects with other specific needs such as those of migrants. For lesbian or bi women experiencing partner violence, women-only spaces also come with complications – the narrative around domestic violence in queer women’s partnerships is silenced and made invisible. Non-specialist services will also not be able to resonate with the experiences of those with less visible LGBTQ+ identities, or those for whom the LGBTQ+ label doesn’t define their experiences — for example, some Sisters whose gender identities and sexualities intersect with their faith and cultural identities. It’s crucial that LGBTQ+ people have spaces that specifically understand the nuance of their experiences, and this is what we fight for.

This lack of provision is the fault of an oppressive government ideology of austerity that is preferentially funding more streamlined services to the detriment of specialised services, such as Broken Rainbow and Apna Haq. Despite a statement from the government that they are aiming to protect “anyone facing the threat of domestic violence and abuse”(2), Broken Rainbow has just seven weeks to secure its next year of funding. This precarity of funds is a yearly cycle in the case of many specialist domestic violence services; staff are forced to worry constantly about fundraising, rather than be able to focus on service users.

As Sisters Uncut, we find this homophobic and transphobic disavowal of the needs of queer people to be completely unacceptable. We stand in solidarity with our queer Sisters and siblings and the staff at Broken Rainbow. We demand the government commit to a ring-fenced, long term fund for specialist domestic violence services so that they can continue to provide these crucial, life-saving services.

For a more detailed look at some of the issues around domestic violence in the LGBT community see our previous blog: Domestic violence is a LGBT issue

1) Transgender People’s Experiences of Domestic Abuse (Scottish Transgender Alliance & LGBT Domestic Abuse Project, 2010)