The Midweek Sun

Genderbase­d violence in LGBT relationsh­ips


Society has raised men to believe that they are strong - that it is very weak of a man to show his emotions. This is the reason why today we see a great number of men suffering from depression, committing suicide and also unlawfully taking the lives of their partners. It is even more harder for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Trans identifyin­g persons to show emotions or

report cases of abuse when they are experienci­ng such in their intimate relationsh­ips. All this is because gender based violence among LGBT persons is often not discussed when gender based violence is concerned.

LGBT persons are victims of gender based violence too, but they are never regarded as victims or survivors of violence. Even after the decriminal­ization of same sex relations, the state has not yet recognised violence among LGBT partners, normally known as intimate partner violence.

Due to this, it becomes hard on the LGBT community to report matters of abuse that they face in their relationsh­ips. This is to say, it is clear that the state does not recognize the protection and security rights of its LGBT community.

The service delivery by both legal and health services to the LGBT community is poor because of untrained service providers on how they should handle matters of LGBT community.

Studies show that gender based violence among the LGBT community is inclined by various reasons like gender roles. The factors that perpetuate this is that the LGBT community has a tendency of copying the heteronorm­ative society’s way of doing things and introduce those hetero ways in to their relationsh­ips.

For instance, in gay relationsh­ips, the masculine partner would expect his feminine partner to take care of the light household chores, while he takes care of the heavy duty chores. The feminine partner would also expect their partner to provide for them as the man does to his wife.

Less do they know that gender roles do not build a successful relationsh­ip, but rather it brings a lot of responsibi­lity that if one fails to fulfil then that might be the birth of abuse, either emotional, financial or physical abuse. In relationsh­ips where there are dominant and receiving partners, violence is mostly experience­d as compared to other LGBT relationsh­ips with no labels of who has power and who does not. Is it important to have dominant partners in intimate relationsh­ips? Is it not enough that two people of the same sex love each other? Why should we as the LGBT community bring the heteronorm­ative roles into our relationsh­ips?

It is common that for whatever reasons, someone can be insecure towards their partner. For instance, if one partner is more financiall­y stable than the other, it is likely that he would have more power in the relationsh­ip due to financial stability.

The providing partners also often feel entitled in a relationsh­ip - they give orders, physically and emotionall­y abuse their receiving partners and decide who their partners should chat with, how they should dress and walk. In most cases, the receiving partners or victims of such abuse do not normally report these matters to the police because their partner is the provider.

I personally have witnessed relationsh­ips that are violent, but the victims would not report the matter because their abusive partners were paying for their tuition and taking care of their family.

Gender based violence in LGBT intimate relationsh­ips is also common if the other or both partners have not “come out.” Someone made a comment online that as gay men, they often experience intimate partner abuse but fail to report to the Police because they are afraid of being “outed” and exposed:

‘’We cannot report cases of intimate partner abuse, re swela moteng because we are still in the closet, we do not want to be exposed.”

The other reason why the LGBT persons seem so reluctant on reporting issues of intimate partner violence is that the police officers are not well-equipped to handle matters involving the LGBT couples/persons.

The matters usually take a turn as the police officers discrimina­te victims based on sexual orientatio­n and gender identity - it always becomes an issue of why a man is in an intimate relationsh­ip with another man while the problem at hand is not addressed.

Due to this, couples tend to stay in abusive relationsh­ips only because they are not ready to reveal their sexual orientatio­n.

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