|Inspector Mark Parish, head of Leicestershire Police's domestic violence investigation unit|
Report gay domestic abuse
by Ciaran Fagan
Police have launched a campaign to encourage gay people to come forward if they are being abused by their partners.
The drive was launched yesterday as police believe the crime is particularly under-reported.
Posters which bear the message "Domestic abuse doesn't discriminate – and nor do we" are being distributed across Leicestershire.
In 2011-12, the force investigated 81 reports of domestic crimes against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people – a small fraction of the 17,000-plus offences reported to the force in the past year.
Also, a survey carried out at Leicester Pride two years ago found that 46 per cent of those questioned had experienced some form of domestic violence.
Detective Inspector Mark Parish, who leads the force's domestic abuse investigation unit, said: "When you compare surveys of people's experience with recorded crime, it is clear members of the LGBT communities are under-reporting domestic abuse.
"There are likely to be two main reasons for this.
"The first is they may not recognise the signs of abuse, and what help there is available.
"The second is that, historically, there has been distrust between police and LGBT communities. However, things have changed. You can have confidence Leicestershire Police will listen to your issues and carry out a professional investigation without discrimination."
The campaign is being supported by domestic violence organisations and Leicester's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Centre in Wellington Street, in the city centre. It was launched yesterday at the Rainbow and Dove pub, a gay venue.
Paula Harris, co-chairman for the LGBT Community Safety Forum, said: "It is great to see police are taking this matter seriously.
"Hopefully, these posters will raise people's awareness that domestic abuse can and does happen in any type of relationship and it is not just about physical violence. I would urge anyone living in an abusive relationship to report it."
Meena Kumari, manager of domestic violence support service Safe Leicester, said: "Safe takes domestic abuse seriously.
"This is a real under-reported crime and would like to help the community gain the level of support they are entitled to."