Prevention in the Pandemic - LGBTIQ+ Family Violence Prevention Project

 

Commissioned by Respect Victoria
Conducted by Gender and Disaster Pod (GAD Pod)
Drummond Street’s Centre for Family Research and Evaluation
Date January 2021

Overview

This action research aimed to gain an understanding of the experience of LGBTIQ+ people and their intimate, family and caring relationships during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The research was carried out between June and September 2020, during coronavirus restrictions in Victoria. Researchers interviewed LGBTIQ+ community members as well as people working with LGBTIQ+ people in the family violence, youth and disability sectors.

The report was designed to understand the impact of the pandemic on LGBTIQ+ people, and to inform future disaster response for both the primary prevention sector and the emergency sector.

Key findings

The research found that multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination mean some LGBTIQ+ people are at heightened risk of family violence under the COVID-19 pandemic.

Impacts at a structural level:

  • Young people. Many have needed to return to homes where family members are unsupportive of their gender or sexual identity.
  • Temporary migrants, international students and sex workers. Unable to access government supports, they are financially vulnerable.
  • Trans and gender diverse people. Increased community surveillance, restrictions on access to medical services, isolation and job losses amongst those who already face extensive workplace discrimination. For people who have lost their jobs, many are coping with poor mental health and new power dynamics in their homes, including dependence on family, partners and other domestic relationships.
  • People with immunocompromised health or disability. Heightened levels of isolation due to increased risks associated with leaving the home and reduced access to formal supports. This has increased strain or dependence on family, partners and other domestic relationships

Impacts at the individual and relationship level:

  • LGBTIQ+ people are experiencing isolation from friends, family and the LGBTIQ+ community. Some have the added isolation of living alone or being a new migrant, without family or support networks.
  • Job losses, financial pressures and mental health distress increase the pressure and strain on domestic relationships. The impact of employment loss can include a reversion to traditional heteronormative gender roles, or for young people, the need to move back in with their family of origin – in many cases increasing the risk of family violence. These experiences are exacerbated as LGBTIQ+ people have notably higher rates of pre-existing mental health issues, experiences of stigma, limited social networks and higher workforce participation in industries significantly impacted by the pandemic.
  • The research also demonstrates the resilience of LGBTIQ+ people, with some reporting that the pandemic has created new opportunities for their relationships to thrive. Impacts at the community level: Throughout the pandemic LGBTIQ+ people have been impacted by pervasive patriarchal norms including heteronormativity, cisnormativity and racism. These provide the context in which family violence and other forms of violence and discrimination occur.

Full report