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Legal Provisions

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Legal Requirements

The 2013 reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act includes a number of provisions designed to make VAWA-funded services and programs inclusive and bring an end to discriminatory practices. The new VAWA law can be seen here: .

The 2013 VAWA reauthorization includes this provision in Section 3, Grant Provisions:


`(A) NONDISCRIMINATION – No person in the United States shall, on the basis of actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, sex, gender identity (as defined in paragraph 249(c)(4) of title 18, United States Code), sexual orientation, or disability, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity funded in whole or in part with funds made available under the Violence Against Women Act of 1994 (title IV of Public Law 103-322; 108 Stat. 1902), the Violence Against Women Act of 2000 (division B of Public Law 106-386; 114 Stat. 1491), the Violence Against Women and Department of Justice Reauthorization Act of 2005 (title IX of Public Law 109-162; 119 Stat. 3080), the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013, and any other program or activity funded in whole or in part with funds appropriated for grants, cooperative agreements, and other assistance administered by the Office on Violence Against Women.

Male Victims

The 2006 VAWA reauthorization added this provision in Section 3, Grant Provisions:

‘‘(8) NONEXCLUSIVITY.—Nothing in this title shall be construed to prohibit male victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking from receiving benefits and services under this title.” (see: )

This new provision in the 2013 VAWA reauthorization under Section 3, Grant Provisions, follows and qualifies the above listed paragraph on Nondiscrimination:

`(B) EXCEPTION – If sex segregation or sex-specific programming is necessary to the essential operation of a program, nothing in this paragraph shall prevent any such program or activity from consideration of an individual’s sex. In such circumstances, grantees may meet the requirements of this paragraph by providing comparable services to individuals who cannot be provided with the sex-segregated or sex-specific programming.

Note that the legal definition of discrimination includes providing a lower level of service. Thus, the “comparable services” clause in VAWA must be construed as providing similar services that do not in any way represent a lower or inferior level of service.

In addition, most provisions in the 2013 VAWA reauthorization now use gender-neutral terms, e.g., “victims” instead of “women.”

LGBT Victims

In 2010 the Department of Justice issued a legal opinion, Whether the Criminal Provisions of the Violence Against Women Act Apply to Otherwise Covered Conduct When the Offender and Victim are the Same Sex. The opinion concludes:

The text, relevant case law, and legislative history all support the conclusion that VAWA’s three criminal provisions, 18 U.S.C. § § 2261, 2261A, and 2262, apply to otherwise covered conduct when the offender and victim are the same sex.

The 2013 VAWA reauthorization added three new provisions:

Section 3, Definitions: `(39) UNDERSERVED POPULATIONS – The term `underserved populations’ means populations who face barriers in accessing and using victim services, and includes populations underserved because of geographic location, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, underserved racial and ethnic populations, populations underserved because of special needs (such as language barriers, disabilities, alienage status, or age), and any other population determined to be underserved by the Attorney General or by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, as appropriate.

Section 3, Grant Provisions: VAWA includes specific language specifying that any program be open to domestic violence victims regardless of “sex, gender identity, [or] sexual orientation.”

Section 101, STOP Grant program: VAWA now indicates that STOP Grant funds can be used to assist LGBT individuals.


VAWA’s Title VIII, added during a previous reauthorization, is designed to assist immigrant victims of domestic violence.