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A new Hong Kong study reveals that domestic abuse is especially prevalent in China's gay community. Gay men and lesbians in China are 60% more likely to abuse their partners than straight couples.
The study, conducted by a coalition of LGBT civil rights groups, found that 16% of same-sex relationships suffer from domestic abuse, while only 9% of opposite-sex couples do.
The researchers found that the most common form of abuse involved threats of outing a partner to employers or family members.
Domestic violence is often thought of only as physical violence but can also involve emotional abuse or violence, including undermining of self-confidence, sexual violence, or the threat of violence by a person who is or has been in a close relationship. This can also include financial control and using a partner's sexuality in a bid to blackmail him or her.
Same-sex domestic violence is slowly getting more attention worldwide. Starting January 1 in California, same-sex couples who register with the state as domestic partners pay $23 toward same-sex anti-domestic violence programs, mirroring similar programs the state funds for straights.
In the United Kingdom, the Domestic Violence Crime and Victims Act 2004 specifically acknowledges lesbian and gay couples as possible victims of domestic abuse. The act allows same-sex couples to obtain restraining orders, and it ensures that lesbian and gay victims of abuse have access to the same protection as married couples.
Statistics suggest that as many as one in four LGBT people have suffered or will suffer from domestic violence in their lives. Nineteen percent of American gay men report physical abuse by an "intimate partner" during the previous five years, according to a study published in 2002 in the American Journal of Public Health. (Hassan Mirza, Gay.com/UK)