The Violence Against Women Act has been expanded to include services for LGBTQ+ survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence.
President Joe Biden signed the bill on 15 March, renewing the 1990s-era law after Republican opposition resulted in it lapsing in 2019.
It was freshly introduced by a bipartisan group of US senators, with the bill to renew it being announced by Senator Dick Durbin.
It marked the first time the act has been reauthorised in nearly a decade, with the updated version offering stronger provisions for those who are the victim of abuse or assault.
This includes LGBTQ+ people, as a grant will be established to support queer survivors of violence.
Activists have praised the updated protections for better helping those who are discriminated against for their sex, sexual orientation and/or gender identity.
“This Act creates the first grant program dedicated to expanding and developing initiatives specifically for LGBTQ domestic violence and sexual assault survivors,” Liz Seaton, the National LGBTQ Task Force’s policy director, said in a statement. “Our sister organisation, the National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund, participated in a working group on bill language and advocated for its passage.”
Forensic evidence will also be improved so that bruising on victims with darker skin tones can be detected and collected more easily, among other reforms.
The Violence Against Women Act was first signed into law in 1994 by President Bill Clinton, which Biden was the primary sponsor of when he was a Senator.
It will come into force later this year.