LGBTQ Kiwis far more likely to be victims of crime, but less likely to report it - study

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Gay, lesbian and bisexual Kiwis are more than twice as likely to suffer "intimate partner violence and/or sexual violence during their lives", the survey found. Photo credit: Getty

LGBTQ Kiwis are far more likely to be victims of crime, particularly sexual violence, research by the Ministry of Justice has found.

While 30 percent of Kiwi adults report experiencing crime each year, that figure rises to 41 percent for gay and lesbian adults and 47 percent for bisexuals. 

"The sexual violence against the bisexual community is pretty terrible - over the course of their lifetimes, about two-thirds experience sexual violence at some stage," Tim Hampton, deputy secretary at the Ministry of Justice, told Newshub.

The numbers sound high, but they're a better indicator of the real level of crime than complaints and charges, Hampton says. Eight-thousand randomly selected people a year are questioned "about their experiences of crime in the previous 12 months" as part of the New Zealand Crime and Victims Survey (NZCVS).

"Unlike other sources, which captures data such as reported crime, the NZCVS also captures unreported crime," the Ministry of Justice said in a statement.

Gay, lesbian and bisexual Kiwis are more than twice as likely to suffer "intimate partner violence and/or sexual violence during their lives", the survey found - more than two-thirds of bisexuals, and more than half of lesbians and gay men, compared to 29 percent across the entire population.

Bisexual adults are less likely to go to the police, the research found - only one in seven crimes against them reported, compared to the New Zealand average of 25 percent. For the gay and lesbian groups, it's 23 percent.

"The issue of unreported crime is an international issue, and it's something here in New Zealand that we are working hard at," said Hampton. "Police take all crime against everybody very seriously, and they are focused on both providing support to victims as well as finding the offenders and providing them with rehabilitation so over time, hopefully that will reduce crime."

LGBTQ victims are 4.5 times more likely to believe they were singled out as a victim because of their sexual orientation than the New Zealand average.

It's the first time the Ministry of Justice has broken down figures on offending against the LGBTQ community, despite the survey being in its third year. Hampton said as a minority community, they waited until having a sizeable data set before publicising the results.

"What we've been able to do for the first time is combine the results over two years which has given us a sample size large enough to dig into these minority communities - such as the lesbian, gay and bisexual communities, those with psychological distress and young adults." 

Offending against the trans community wasn't included in the latest data release, but Hampton says it will come.

"We didn't have a large enough sample. Over time, as we get some more surveys, we will be able to dig deeper in the same way as this time we were able to dig deeper into the LGBT community."

Hampton said the findings will be shared with police, Corrections and Oranga Tamariki "to help improve experience of access to justice" for the LGBTQ community.