Washington, DC – As part of the omnibus government spending package, the U.S. Senate last night passed the Violence Against Women Act. The House passed the bipartisan measure earlier this week and President Biden is expected to sign it shortly. The VAWA will expand protections for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault and increase funding for related programs and resources.
LGBTQ people were included in the 2013 reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, but the new amendment creates the first grant program dedicated to expanding and developing initiatives specifically for LGBTQ survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking.
“We are grateful that members of Congress paved a bipartisan path forward for passage of the Violence Against Women Act,” said Kasey Suffredini, CEO and national campaign director of Freedom for All Americans. “LGBTQ people face disproportionately high rates of sexual violence and assault, and this legislation will directly improve our lives. I encourage Congress to similarly come together across the aisle to pass the Equality Act, which is desperately needed by millions of LGBTQ Americans who are vulnerable to discrimination in the majority of our country. As this vote demonstrates, we don’t have to agree on everything to agree that everyone, including LGBTQ people, should be treated with dignity and respect.”
According to data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the lifetime prevalence of rape, physical violence and/or stalking by an intimate partner is extremely high in the lesbian, gay, and bisexual community, with lesbian women (43.8%), gay men (26%), bisexual women (61.1%), and bisexual men (37.3%) reporting experiencing this violence, compared to heterosexual women (35%) and heterosexual men (29%). Studies additionally suggest that around half of transgender people and bisexual women will experience sexual violence at some point in their lifetimes. These numbers are exacerbated for women of color, particularly transgender women of color.
The bipartisan bill was sponsored by 45 Democrats, 11 Republican, and 2 Independents in the Senate and passed 68-31.