INTRODUCTION

Approximately 7% of clients in an average project for homeless people identify as being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) according to Homeless Link’s 2011 Survey of Needs and Provision (SNAP). The government estimates that 5-7% of the general population identify as LGBT. However estimating this figure is extremely difficult as it’s only recently that organisations have started to collect data on sexuality and gender identity. SNAP 2011 also suggests that 79% of homelessness services work with people who identify as LGBT, which means all services need to be aware of the complex barriers LGBT clients may face. It’s crucial to be aware that people from this group may face discrimination and abuse from people they know and strangers, which can lead to multiple exclusion for individuals.

USEFUL DEFINITIONS

Sexual orientation refers to an individual's (emotional or sexual) orientation towards:

• persons of the same sex (lesbians or gay men)
• persons of the opposite sex (heterosexual people)
• persons of the same or opposite sex (bisexual people)

Gender refers to a person's physical sex appearance as male or female.

Gender identity is the inner sense of knowing that a person is a boy/man or a girl/woman. Transgender (or 'trans') is an umbrella term used to describe someone who crosses gender boundaries. The term LGBT may also include people who identify as being transsexual, transitional, intersex, questioning, curious or unsure; and men who have sex with men and women who have sex with women but who do not identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual.


USEFUL WEBSITES

The Albert Kennedy Trust - AKT supports young LGBT 16-25 year olds who are made homeless or living in a hostile environment
Broken Rainbow (LGBT domestic violence organisation) - Support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people experiencing domestic violence
LGBT Domestic Abuse Forum
Helplines – refer to the helpline page on HL website
Homeless UK -  search for services which target LGBT clients
Refuge (Domestic violence organisation for all women and children)
Stonewall - policy and campaigning organisation
Stonewall Housing - Run a free, confidential housing advice for LGBT people of all ages, across London, via a daily advice line (020 7359 5767) and three drop-in surgeries. We also run six hostels for LGBT people under 25.
Threshold Gay Men’s Shared Housing (Provides support and housing for gay men escaping domestic and/or homophobic violence)
Turing Network Resources Database
Women’s Aid Federation of England (National charity working to end domestic violence against women and children)

USEFUL INFORMATION FOR WORKING WITH PEOPLE WHO IDENTIFY AS LGBT

The Equality Act  (2010) makes it unlawful for public authorities to discriminate when providing public services. This covers the work of local authority housing services. To find out more:

Government Equalities Office LGBT Action Plans can be found here
The home office: Equalities and LGBT information
Relevant legislation
The Equality Act 2010 can also be useful to understand, again to find out more

LGBT AND HOMELESSNESS AND YOUNG PEOPLE

In addition to being at risk of becoming homeless for all the same reasons that any young person faces, difficulties due to intolerance and prejudice can contribute to the loss of a stable home or exacerbate periods of homelessness for people who are LGBT, for example:
• parent and or familial intolerance and prejudice
• homophobic, biphobic and transphobic attitudes
• bullying or harassment at school
• isolation and emotional distress following rejection by family or friends
• mental health problems linked to difficulties coming to terms with sexual or gender identity
• homophobia and transphobia (remarks, gestures, verbal and physical abuse and harassment) in projects and services
• exploitation and risky behaviour e.g. alcohol and drug use or trading sex for a place to stay
• invisibility and lack of awareness of needs or encouragement to be open about sexual orientation or gender identity.

For more details visit Stonewall Housing Website

LGBT AND HOMELESSNESS AND OLDER CLIENTS


Sexuality issues are often overlooked for homeless people, especially for older people.  'Sexuality and Homelessness' (Crisis 2005) report reiterates that organisations often assume clients are heterosexual which can have a negative effect on LGBT people's ability to reveal their sexuality or gender identity. Age UK also have some useful information for older people.

There are some housing issues specific to LBGT older people also:
• LGBT older people may experience a lack of confidence in approaching mainstream agencies with issues that entail being out about their sexuality/ gender identity.
• inheritance and the passing on of property between partners, especially if they have not entered a civil partnership
• housing choices in later life and the difficulty for some LGBT older people moving into care and support options where they feel isolated or their sexuality becomes invisible
• dealing with biphobic, transphobic and homophobic harassment
• lack of on-going care and support to remain safely in their own homes
For more details see Stonewall's website and a paper by the International Longevity Centre on housing issues affecting the older LGBT community.