IT'S being described as a silent epidemic.
The AIDS Council of New South Wales has released reports which indicate one in three lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) couples will experience the effects of domestic violence at some point in their lives.
Local lawyers are voicing fears that there are no support mechanisms in place to deal with the impact of LGBTI domestic violence as it becomes more prominent, due to the fact the current systems are largely based around heterosexual relationships.
Bruce Simmonds, Litigation Director of Gold Coast law firm Parker Simmonds Solicitors and Lawyers, says the ways in which the court currently deals with offenders or assailants in a domestic violence situation does not effectively apply to LGBTI persons.
"The most urgent need is adequate domestic violence counselling for gays because the current system is focused on heterosexuals and in particular around a concept where a husband assaults his wife," says Simmonds.
"If a male beats his female partner he can go to a male counselling course but if the assailant is a gay male it's not practical that he attend the same course especially as he will fear bullying others by attending it."
As Australia begins to follow in the footsteps of America and Ireland, inching ever closer towards marriage equality, large scale funding must be directed toward setting up cruicial infrastructure for various types of relationship breakdowns should they occur.
"This is an under-reported but growing crisis in the community and the push to legalise same sex marriage is the right time to highlight the crucial need to upgrade our support services to meet the needs of heterosexual and gay people," says Simmonds.
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