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Navigating the Criminal Justice System & Support Services as an LGBT+ Survivor of Sexual Violence

We asked over 1,000 LGBT+ people in the UK about their experiences of sexual violence.

LGBT+ people are too often invisible in the public narrative around sexual violence. Galop has been working with LGBT+ victims and survivors of sexual assault for over a decade, and has seen the many barriers our community faces in navigating the criminal justice system. This research seeks to explore LGBT+ survivors’ experiences and perceptions of the criminal justice system and mainstream statutory services.

The vast majority of LGBT+ sexual violence survivors surveyed did not report to the police — only 12% had reported their most significant experience of sexual violence.

There were multiple factors that deterred them from doing so, including being worried that the police would discriminate against them because of their LGBT+ identity (25%), fearing that they would not be taken seriously (51%) and thinking that the police would not be able to do anything (56%).

LGBT+ survivors who did report their experiences to the police generally described poor experiences.

Of those surveyed who reported to the police, 45% were unsatisfied or very unsatisfied with the service they received compared to 22% who were satisfied or very satisfied. Only 22% were satisfied or very satisfied with the police’s understanding of their LGBT+ identity.

Only a small number of participants had their sexual violence cases progressed all the way through the criminal justice system.

Of 119 respondents who had made a police report, just 3 said their perpetrator had been convicted. Interview participants whose case progressed through the criminal justice system generally had negative experiences and would not advise it to other LGBT+ people.

The non-specialist support services available to participants frequently did not understand LGBT+ identities which often contributed to poor experiences of these services.

Many participants could not find specialist support despite looking for it — this was particularly notable in areas outside London; no interview participants from outside of London had accessed any specialist sexual violence support service.