Inclusive VAWA vote expected in the U.S. Senate
This week, the U.S. Senate is taking up the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) reauthorization bill S. 47, which includes explicit protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) survivors of domestic violence as well as enhanced protections for tribal and immigrant victims. The bipartisan bill introduced just two weeks ago by Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Michael Crapo (R-Id.) currently has 61 co-sponsors.
The 1994 federal law provides funds to enhance investigation and prosecution of violent crimes such as domestic violence and sexual assault, and it bolsters victim services programs. The Task Force, along with a broad coalition of organizations including the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, has been lobbying for inclusion of sexual orientation and gender identity in the law.
Specific inclusion of sexual orientation and gender identity in the Violence Against Women Act is vital because:
- According to new data from the CDC, the lifetime prevalence of rape, physical violence and/or stalking by an intimate partner is extremely high in the LGB community with lesbian women (43.8%), gay men (26%), bisexual women (61.1%), and bisexual men (37.3%) reporting experiencing this violence, compared to heterosexual women (35%) and heterosexual men (29%).
- 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 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 recently 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.
Learn more at www.4vawa.org/