UK's national LGBT domestic violence charity faces closure

Broken Rainbows says it will close in a matter of weeks unless government renews funding

The UK’s only national domestic violence charity for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people is facing closure due to a lack of funding.

Broken Rainbow, which is based in Manchester, said it had seven weeks to secure renewed funding from the Home Office before it would have to shut down its services, which had helped 10,000 people so far this financial year.

The charity’s managing director, Jo Harvey Barringer, said the organisation “literally saves lives”, and called on the Home Office to recognise that domestic violence in the LGBT community was a real problem.

“LGBT charities are at the forefront of service cuts affecting the community’s most vulnerable people,” she said. “This needs to stop.”

Sarah Champion, the shadow minister for preventing abuse and domestic violence, said the charity was a lifeline for thousands of people who did not have local LGBT services available.

“Broken Rainbow still goes year to year without knowing if their core funding will be forthcoming. For an organisation that performs such a vital role, this is unacceptable,” said the MP for Rotherham.

Among other services, the charity provides a national helpline and online chat service, which has helped more than 42,000 people since it was founded 11 years ago. While some other regional charities offer help to LGBT victims of domestic violence, Broken Rainbow is the only such organisation working at a national level.

A four-year round of funding from the Home Office was only renewed for one year in March 2015, allowing it to run its core services up to the end of this financial year.

Broken Rainbow’s figures suggest that one in four lesbian, gay and bisexual people will experience domestic violence from a partner or family member in their lifetime. That figure that rises to four in five trans people. Of all the people helped by the charity, 51% are male.

Barringer said recognition of domestic violence in the LGBT community was 40 years behind the women’s movement.

“If you think about the LGBT equality battle, we’ve only just got the right to get married, so we’re not going to start talking about the not so pleasant aspects of our relationships,” she said.

“[LGBT people] don’t necessarily recognise that what’s going on in our relationships is domestic violence. So in regards to awareness, if you’re thinking of the women’s movement, we’re probably in the late 70s, early 80s.”

Most funding to tackle domestic violence goes to women’s charities, which Barringer said was understandable because violence against women and girls was such a major problem.

“When you look at domestic violence as a subject in this country, two women a week die at the hands of their male partners,” she said. “LGBT people die at the hands of their partners too, but when it’s reported in the press it’s much more sensationalised, or it’s not even recognised as domestic violence.”

Barringer said women’s domestic violence charities recognised that domestic violence in the LGBT community was a problem, but had limited funding and were not set up to cater for trans people or men. There are only 35 refuge beds for male victims of domestic violence in the UK.

Contributor

Frances Perraudin

The GuardianTramp

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