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Support for domestic violence must be equal, says MSP

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By Fiona Reid
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Support for domestic violence must be equal, says MSP

DOMESTIC violence and control is everyone’s problem.

That was the message from South Scotland SNP MSP Emma Harper, during a debate in the Scottish Parliament on domestic abuse within Scotland’s LGBT+ community.

She made the point that domestic abuse is abhorrent in all forms, but crucially that it is not an all-woman problem.

And she pointed to statistics from the Crown Office Procurator Fiscal Service which shows that 30,139 charges were reported to them with a domestic abuse identifier in 2022-23. In these instances, the accused was male in 86 per cent of cases.

Ms Harper made the point that the statistics show that women were the perpetrators of domestic abuse in 4219 cases and highlighted the need for Scottish Government policy, and indeed for the legal service, to recognise that domestic abuse is not, in fact, an all-woman problem and that policies must support everyone – regardless of gender and sexual orientation.

Furthermore, she cited research from the University of Glasgow which made specific recommendations to better support LGBT+ people in Scotland, including men, who are the victims of domestic abuse. While welcoming the work being undertaken by the Scottish Government to refresh its ‘Equally Safe’ policy which aims to tackle domestic abuse, the MSP said the provision of safe emergency accommodation for LGBT+ people and men must be strengthened and there must be a real understanding by Scotland’s legal sector – the courts, police and support services – that anyone can be the victim of domestic abuse and coercive or controlling behaviour.

She said: “Domestic abuse and controlling behaviour in any form is frankly abhorrent. Everyone has a right to feel safe and also to feel that, should they need to report domestic abuse and coercive control, that they will be treated equally by the police, courts and by the very services which are there to support them.

“However, the University of Glasgow’s research – carried out by Dr Steven Maxwell – shows that this is not the case for many men and members of the LGBT+ community.

“The statistics speak for themselves – domestic abuse is not an all-women problem. Anyone – male or female, gay or straight – can experience domestic abuse and coercive control by a partner. What we must do now is ensure that the police, courts and support services are supporting everyone who has experienced this abhorrent behaviour, to bring about proper justice.

“I hope the Minister will now give a serious undertaking to implement the recommendations from the comprehensive report.”

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