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Safe housing for LGBT people is a matter of life and death

Report type
Research and reports
Issue date

"I was 16 years old and living at home when I came out as gay to my Mum and her boyfriend. He said I was disgusting. He told me I'd be a bad influence on my sisters. He wanted me to leave. He said to my Mum that she had to choose between me or him: she chose him.” Jamie, aged 16 (case study from Stonewall Housing)

Finding a safe home for young LGBT can literally save lives. When they come out to their families they may experience homophobia, biophobia, transphobia and even violence. These discriminatory and bigoted attitudes may also manifest itself in other housing setting.

Oppression based on sexual orientation and gender identity exacerbate the housing problems including rogue landlords, cuts to young people’s housing benefits and a lack of rent caps to name but a few.

There are an estimated 80,000 homeless young people and young LGBT people make up 24 percent of them. This is hugely disproportionate to the UK LGBT population. It has been reported that 69 percent of young LGBT people who found themselves homeless had experienced familial rejection, abuse or violence.

Similarly, a Scottish survey found that 19 percent of trans people had been homeless at some point with a significant proportion reporting this was the result of other people’s attitudes on discovering their transgender history.

Oppression based on sexual orientation and gender identity can be compounded for young people from faith communities. Imaan, a charity working with LGBT Muslims, as well as Albert Kennedy Trust, have reported of the threat of “honour based violence” for some people within these groups. In these instances being an LGBT young person is seen as bringing “shame” and “dishonour” to the family and young people are at risk of violence, forced marriage and even death. Housing and homelessness for LGBT people is an intersectional issue.

This paper sets out these and other housing issues facing young LGBT people today. It builds on the recommendations of the TUC charter on housing for young people, drawn up by the TUC Young Members’ Forum. It calls on unions to build relationships with LGBT community organisations and use collective bargaining to tackle discrimination, and to campaign for housing policies that are humane and just.