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 recent survey released in San Francisco.
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.
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% of all same-sex relationships.
New York City recorded the most gay domestic violence acts with 454, followed by San Francisco, 347; San Diego, 330; Minneapolis, 243; Chicago, 129, and Columbus, 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 that despite the results, the gay community has been slow to react to domestic violence, partly from fear that it would contribute to prejudices about 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 incidents of homosexual domestic violence than anti-gay harassment, which includes everything from insults to violence.
The group said the numbers on gay domestic violence in San Francisco represent only a fraction of incidents involving abusive relationships among gays, lesbians and bisexuals.
The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs is an organization of 25 agencies and programs that track vioence against and within the gay community.