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Domestic violence protection may be harder for LGBT victims

Domestic violence in North Carolina is defined as attempting to or intentionally causing bodily injury or threatening to do so to a family member or a romantic partner of the opposite sex. This definition fails to take into account those who are part of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. This omission puts LGBT individuals in danger for domestic violence. In fact, the federal Center for Disease Control and Prevention conducted a survey in 2010 in which they found that members of the LGBT community are just as likely if not more likely to be victims of domestic and sexual violence in their relationships.

North Carolina is one of only three states that denies domestic violence protective orders (DVPOs) to those who are not in a heterosexual relationship. The only way members of the LGBT community are able to be protected is by Civil No-Contact Orders. However, these orders do not provide the same protection that DVPOs do. Most notably, those who violate a DVPO twice face felony charges while those who violate a Civil No-Contact Order are only guilty of contempt of court in a civil case.

These differences have prompted concerned citizens to complain about the perceived discrimination. They argue that a person's sexual orientation should have no bearing on his or her right to protection from domestic violence.

If you are in a same-sex relationship and have been the victim of domestic violence, you may wish to consult with an attorney experienced in family law to discuss your options for relief and protection.

Source: News Observer, "NC allows dangerous discrimination against LGBT victims of domestic violence," Karen Kranbuehl, June 22, 2014

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