Sinn Féin spokesperson on Children, Disability, Equality and Integration, Kathleen Funchion TD, has said more must be done to support LGBT women who are victims of domestic or sexual violence.
Her comments follow her engagement with the sector, as part of her ongoing work throughout the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence campaign to highlight how violence against women is impacting on different communities and ensure their voices are heard.
The international 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence campaign began on 25th November.
Teachta Funchion said: “I want to thank LGBT Ireland for engaging with me on this vital issue- which does not receive enough attention.
“I want to commend the charity for their excellent ongoing work in helping LGBT people access essential services.
“LGBT Ireland highlighted to me a number of worrying ways in which LGBT women can experience particular distress and marginalisation through domestic and sexual violence.
“In particular, they highlighted how many lesbian women can suffer from blackmail and harassment related to the stigma of being ‘out’. This is deeply worrying.
“They also noted that the ‘one stop shop’ introduced during the Covid-19 pandemic to support all of those experiencing domestic violence was helpful and that they would welcome it becoming a permanent fixture.
“I am aware that LGBT women can sometimes feel ‘invisible’ in discussions around domestic violence which tend to focus on heterosexual relationships. Sadly, the reality is that domestic violence can occur in any relationship, regardless of gender or sexual orientation.
“It is clear that more must be done to raise awareness about how women in same-sex relationship experience domestic abuse. LGBT women seeking support should not have to fear navigating a system which fails to take their circumstances into account.
“I will continue to raise these issues and ensure that the Government does more to support LGBT women experiencing domestic and sexual violence.
“As a society, we must send the clear message that violence in any relationship is totally unacceptable. Victims leaving an abusive relationship must receive the support they need.
“Far too often, victims are turned away from refuges due to lack of funding. The Government has a clear obligation to support victims and must ensure that these necessary support services are in place urgently.”