The report [PDF] uses data from the AICs National Homicide Monitoring Program database to describe what is known about the trends and key characteristics of same-sex intimate partner homicide.
Of the 1,536 intimate partner homicide incidents recorded from 1989–90 to 2009–10 in Australia, around 2% were classified as same-sex intimate partner homicides (n=31; 2.1% cf n=1,505; 97.9% which were classified as opposite-sex intimate partner homicides).
Although there were some statistical differences, homicides were similar in both subsets – knives were the most commonly used murder weapons, and males were responsible for the majority of killings.
The authors comment
Comparatively little international research has been conducted exploring the nature and context of same-sex intimate partner homicides and no research has specifically examined same-sex intimate partner homicides in Australia. However, as Drake (2004: 317) argues:
Research about [gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered] homicide is necessary if the overall homicide rate is to be reduced...Focusing on stigmatised and underrepresented groups … might not appear important, [but] this kind of attitude helps exacerbate the crime problem and ensures that homicide will always be problematic.
In an attempt to address this gap in the Australian homicide literature and to contribute new knowledge to the study of homicide in general, this paper describes the key characteristics of same-sex intimate partner homicide in Australia as recorded in the NHMP and draws together national and international research concerning its associated factors.They go on to state that
The findings in this paper should be interpreted in light of the following five limitations. First, despite the quality assurance efforts, there may be an undercount of same-sex intimate partner homicide incidents. Due to concealment issues associated with same-sex relationships, there is a possibility that some cases may have been miscoded by police as between strangers, or between friends or acquaintances. Second, as already noted, the lack of specific information about a victim or offender’s sexual or gender identity precludes an analysis of transgendered, bi-sexual or intersex persons as victims or offenders in homicide matters. Third, it is possible that the prevalence of drug and alcohol use among both same-sex and opposite-sex intimate partner homicide incidents is underrepresented. While the NHMP relies on post-mortem toxicology tests to determine whether the victim had drugs or alcohol in their system, identifying drugs or alcohol for the offender is usually based on a subjective assessment of the investigating officers. Fourth, although the paper uses the NHMP’s best available data on mental health, it is possible that the prevalence of mental disorders is underrepresented. A mental disorder is recorded where information is available and where a specific condition of the offender has been determined. This information does not always come to the attention of investigating officers. Finally, both same-sex and opposite-sex intimate partner homicide rates per population may be an overestimate.During the period 1989–90 to 2009–10 stab wounds were the leading cause of death for both same-sex and opposite-sex intimate partner homicide victims (47% and 41% respectively). The authors note some differences -
- strangulations or suffocations were more common among same-sex intimate partner homicide victims (n=8; 25%) than opposite-sex intimate partner homicide victims (n=181; 12%);
- beatings were more common among opposite-sex intimate partner homicide victims (n=321; 21%) than same-sex intimate partner homicide victims (n=5; 16%); and
- about one in five opposite-sex intimate partner homicide victims (n=272; 18%) died from gunshot wounds, compared with none for same-sex intimate partner homicide victims (n=0; 0%).
Analysis of the apparent motives (or reasons) from 1989–90 to 2009–10 indicates that same-sex intimate partner homicides occurred for many of the same reasons as opposite-sex intimate partner homicides. Domestic arguments were identified as the leading motive for both same-sex and opposite- sex intimate partner homicide incidents (n=8; 25% and n=837; 56% respectively), although in most cases further information regarding the nature of the argument was not available.
Other apparent motives identified for both same-sex and opposite-sex intimate partner homicide victims included:
- revenge (n=1; 3% and n=23; 2% respectively);
- jealousy (n=3; 9% and n=102; 7% respectively);
- relationship desertion/terminations (n=2; 6% and n=291; 19% respectively);
- money (n=3; 9% and n=24; 2% respectively);
- other arguments (n=4, 13% and n=16; 1% respectively);
- mercy killings (n=1; 3% and n=10; 1% respectively); and
- apparently delusional (n=1; 3% and n=10; 1% respectively).