Domestic Abuse in Same Sex Relationships
Updated: Jul 12, 2022
The law has come a long way in trying to protect victims of domestic abuse. The new changes to the Domestic Abuse Bill 2021 have been a long and waited welcome by many. The law has always tried to do well by victims of domestic abuse but unfortunately, the end goal is still a long way away.
We’re not STRAIGHT, does the law still protect us?
In short, YES. The law protects ALL victims of domestic abuse regardless of your sexual orientation. The government website defines domestic abuse as
‘Any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are or have been intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality.’
The key point is that the definition recognises victims of domestic abuse regardless of their gender or sexuality. Therefore, the rights that victims in opposite-sex relationships have are the same rights, victims who are in same-sex relationships have. The law does not differentiate between the two but merely looks at whether or not an individual has been a victim of domestic abuse.
How can I apply for a Non-Molestation Order or Occupation Order if I’m not straight?
You can apply for a Non-Mol Order under section 42 of the Family Law Act 1996 as long as you can prove that under section 62 of the Family Law Act 1996 you are an associated person. Someone who is an associate person is as follows:
(a)they are or have been married to each other.
(aa)they are or have been civil partners of each other;
(b)they are cohabitants or former cohabitants.
(c)they live or have lived in the same household, otherwise than merely by reason of one of them being the other’s employee, tenant, lodger or boarder.
(d)they are relatives.
(e)they have agreed to marry one another (whether or not that agreement has been terminated);
(ea)they have or have had an intimate personal relationship with each other which is or was of significant duration.
(eza) they have entered into a civil partnership agreement
(f)in relation to any child, they are both persons falling within subsection (4)
(g)they are parties to the same family proceedings
Therefore, the law does not differentiate between different or same-sex relationships, rather the law focuses on the term ‘associated person’.
What is an Occupation Order?
An Occupation Order is an order made by the courts to direct who can live at a property, who is excluded from entering the property and the surrounding areas.
In order for you to be eligible for an Occupation Order, you must first be an associated person, second have been living in the property and view it as ‘home’ and thirdly have a right to the property for example have matrimonial home rights as you are married or have joint or sole ownership of the property.
An Occupation Order can be applied under section 33 of the Family Law Act 1996. You can apply for an Occupation Order if you are in a same-sex relationship or an opposite-sex relationship, the law does not differ on this.
Do gay victims have the same rights as straight victims?
In short yes. Domestic abuse protection orders are addressed in the Family Law Act 1996. The Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004 criminalised the breach of such protection orders in order to strengthen the protection available to victims.
The legislation itself does not discriminate between whether the victim has been in a same-sex relationship or an opposite-sex relationship. Rather, it focuses on the fact of whether the act itself has amounted to molestation and if there has been a crime committed in terms of a breach of the protection order.
The term domestic abuse has previously not been a legal definition. However, the introduction of the Domestic Abuse Act 2021, is changing that. It aims amongst other things to put the definition of domestic abuse on a statutory footing and therefore have a legal definition of the term domestic abuse. It will also aim to stop cross-examination of victims by the perpetrator in courts and appoint a Domestic Abuse Commissioner to regulate cases of domestic abuse. This has been a long and hard-earned victory for advocates of domestic abuse everywhere.
I’m suffering domestic abuse, where can I get help from if I’m gay?
There are several helplines for domestic abuse victims in same-sex relationships. These are namely:
1. Independent Choices Greater Manchester LGBT Independent Domestic Abuse Advisor (IDVA). Our IDVA service works with LGBT+ people who are experiencing domestic abuse. For advice and support please contact our helpline on 0161 6367525 or email email@example.com. www.domesticabusehelpline.co.uk
2. GALOP provide the national lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans domestic abuse helpline 0300 999 5428 or 0800 999 5428, email firstname.lastname@example.org
3. The LGBT Foundation Helpline: provides free advice and support on a wide range of issues including domestic violence. A face-to-face counselling service is provided on a sliding scale dependent on the ability to pay. Hours Daily 18.00 – 22.00 0845 330 3030 email: email@example.com web: https://lgbt.foundation/
The bottom line to remember is that the law is here to help. It does not differentiate between same-sex relationship abuse victims or opposite-sex relationship abuse victims. The law is only here to differentiate if you are indeed a victim and then give you the rights that you are entitled to for your own protection.
Please do note that this Article is NOT Legal advice and should not be treated as legal advice.