Domestic violence an issue for gays and straights

[Border Mail, Feb 20 2011]

Kate Duffy: homosexual relationships are just as likely to suffer domestic violence as any other group. Picture: MATTHEW SMITHWICK

Kate Duffy: homosexual relationships are just as likely to suffer domestic violence as any other group. Picture: MATTHEW SMITHWICK

PEOPLE in same-sex and transgender relationships are just as likely to be victims of domestic abuse as those in heterosexual relationships, a Sydney solicitor said at the weekend.

But Kate Duffy, solicitor and safe relationships project officer at the Inner City Legal Centre at Kings Cross, said the abuse suffered in regional areas can be exacerbated if the wider community was not accepting of homosexual and transgender people.

“If the community is not very accepting then people can use outing as a method of power and control,” Ms Duffy said.

“They can use that homophobia against their partner.”

In Albury for homosexual support group Hume Phoenix’s first sexual diversity weekend, Ms Duffy said the close-knit “queer community” in some country towns could also exacerbate a victim’s reluctance to report domestic violence.

“If the queer community is very close-knit in a small town it can be hard for people to report abuse for fear that they’ll lose that close-knit circle of friends,” Ms Duffy said.

The Inner City Legal Centre provides free assistance for people who are in same-sex or transgender relationships experiencing domestic violence.

Ms Duffy said the centre aimed to fill the gaps left in mainstream domestic violence services that tended to focus on women being the victims.

“Their services can’t help gay men or transgender women,” Ms Duffy said.

She addressed more than 45 people at Saturday night’s Hume Phoenix event at Adamshurst.

Hume Phoenix publications officer Kelly Dwyer said the group was rapt with the turnout.

“We’re delighted; we had teenagers to people in their 60s, parents, friends and family.”

More than 40 people attended the support group’s Friday night barbecue at Hovell Tree Park in Albury.

The events were aimed at promoting tolerance and the group hopes to secure funding from Family Planning Victoria next year to host similar events.

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