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Survey Finds Homosexuals Rarely Report Domestic Violence

Oct. 22, 1996

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Gays and lesbians are more likely to be the victims of domestic violence than anti-gay violence but rarely report the abuse, according to a survey released Tuesday.

The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, which conducted the survey, said the results show that homosexual relationships can be just as violent as heterosexual relationships sometimes are.

The survey is billed as an unscientific tabulation of 1,566 acts of violence last year in Chicago, Columbus, Ohio, Minneapolis, New York, San Diego and San Francisco.

Community activists, who gathered the statistics, found that four of the survey's six cities logged more cases of domestic violence than anti-gay hate violence. They said limited research found that domestic violence occurs in 25 to 33 percent of all same-sex relationships.

New York City recorded the most number of homosexual violence with 454 acts, followed by San Francisco, 347; San Diego, 330; Minneapolis, 243; Chicago, 129; and Columbus, Ohio, 63.

"We understand this is a fairly rudimentary survey but there is essentially no research in the area," said Greg Merrill, spokesman for Community United Against Violence. "We're trying to use this as a starting point to show that this is a problem and that we need to explore the issue further."

Activists said despite the results, the gay community has been slow to react to domestic violence, partly fearing it would contribute to prejudices about the nature of gay relationships.

"The time has come for us to confront domestic violence as bravely as we have hate violence," said Constance Potter of the Gay and Lesbian Community Action Council in Minneapolis.

In San Francisco, Community United Against Violence recorded 23 more reports of homosexual domestic violence than anti-gay harassment, which includes everything from insults to violence.

The group said the number of gay domestic violence in San Francisco represents only a tiny fraction of incidents involving abusive relationships among gay, lesbian and bisexual victims.

The San Francisco District Attorney's Office reported handling a dozen cases at the most involving homosexual domestic violence.

San Francisco police are being trained to handle homosexual domestic violence cases the same way they would if the partners were heterosexual.

The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, is an organization of 25 agencies and programs that track violence against and within the gay community.