A third of same-sex partners suffer abuse
Partners suffering abuse in same-sex relationships are missing out on help offered by refuges because social workers are not properly trained to meet their needs, gay rights groups have claimed.
The situation is worsening, the groups say, as the pressures spurring increased violence in heterosexual relationships are doing the same among same-sex couples.
The criticisms come after a survey of homosexuals and bisexuals found a third had suffered some form of domestic abuse. Sixteen per cent had been beaten up by their partners, almost double the 9.6 per cent in heterosexual couples, said Connie Chan Man-wai of the Women Coalition, one of five groups that conducted the survey.
The survey of 236 people between December and this month found a common type of abuse in same-sex couples was the threat to disclose a partner's sexual preferences. 'One partner would threaten to tell the other's parents, friends or employers so that they would get fired,' said Dr Chan.
She added that social workers at family service centres, shelters or hotlines for domestic violence did not know how to handle gay victims and ignored their fears.
The findings were underlined by undercover calls to five groups dealing with domestic violence. In one, to Harmony House, a social worker suggested the client just deny it if a partner disclosed her sexual orientation to her family.
The Social Welfare Department declined to say whether it had trained social workers to deal with gay domestic violence, saying 'social workers will assess the need of people who approach family service units for assistance and render appropriate services irrespective of their gender or sexual orientation'.
Harmony House said it could not comment without details of the phone call. A spokeswoman said it had not trained frontline workers to deal with gay domestic violence, but was keen to meet gay groups and learn to do better.