South Carolina Does Not Recognize Domestic Violence Amongst Same-Sex Couples

South Carolina has made many strides in its tolerance of same-sex couples, the southern state affords LGBT individuals with many rights.

However, South Carolina is the only state which still does not recognize domestic violence amongst same-sex couples. State legislation only explicitly includes opposite-sex couples.

The statute for domestic abuse states:

“Household member” means:

(i) a spouse;

(ii) a former spouse;

(iii) persons who have a child in common;

(iv) a male and female who are cohabiting or formerly have cohabited.

As you can see, there is no mention of same couples. This may surprise some, because in 2017 we are used to all members of society be they straight or gay having the same rights. So it comes as a shock that South Carolina still do not consider a same-sex relationship being on the same level as a relationship between a man and a woman.

However, it must be noted that the absence of same-sex couples from legislation does not mean that same-sex couples are free to assault each other with no penalties. Unlike in a heterosexual relationship, when the people involved are charged they will be prosecuted for assault rather than domestic abuse.

Many states’ statutes are silent on same-sex applications, thus tacitly extending domestic violence protections to same-sex dating couples, and their legislation involves use of gender neutral language.

Whilst statistics for domestic violence are well documented for heterosexual couples, there is less data available for gay couples. According to the 2010 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, “lesbian women and gay men reported levels of intimate partner violence and sexual violence equal to or higher than those of heterosexuals.”


Officials in South Carolina are trying to rectify this injustice and we are certain that the language of the legislation will be altered to include same-sex couples. 


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