What Stonewall means for the homeless
The 1969 Stonewall riots were a series of uprisings due to the treatment of LGBTQ+ people. Starting as a fight against police brutality, the community announced that they would no longer accept being viewed as a lower form of human due to their gender or sexuality.
As with the many other movements, it took a violent and significant stand to get the attention required as peaceful strategies were not working. Since the riots, LGBTQ+ movements have been able to protest peacefully in the form of Pride. These protests happen yearly throughout the UK to remind everyone of the need for everyone to be accepted. Charity services provide donations to ensure that the rights of everyone in society are equal.
Although there has been great success with same-sex marriage and education, homelessness is still an issue that Stonewall and other charity services are trying to combat.
What are the figures?
50% of LGBTQ+ fear eviction if they express their identity where they live.
64% could not establish or maintain friendships and relationships while they were homeless.
1 out of 5 had to have casual sex to have somewhere to live.
Only 1 out of 3 felt it was safe to disclose their identity to housing services.
59% of LGBTQ+ young people have been discriminated against or harassed while accessing services.
Despite there being several reports that correspond with the difficulties faced by LGBTQ+ individuals, when they are facing homelessness, housing policies are not meeting their needs due to the strict criteria.
In part, this is due to the coping mechanisms that many people who have struggled with their identity, discrimination, and prejudice, and then homelessness, would take on. For example, research states that individuals who identify as LGBTQ+ are more likely to misuse substances, have moderate to severe physical and mental health needs, and are twice as likely to consider or attempt suicide.
According to several housing allocation policies, illegal drugs, a criminal record, and antisocial behaviour lead to immediate disqualification from the housing list.
As rough sleeping is a criminal offence, 183 prosecutions and 140 convictions occurred in 2019 due to Section 4 of the Vagrancy Act 1824. Further to this 926 prosecutions and 742 convictions were given for begging under Section 3 of the same Act.
For these reasons, people dealing with homelessness rely on charity services and charity donations to help them avoid convictions that would remove them from any chance of being offered a home.
Other difficulties faced by young homeless people who identify as LGBTQ+; are that they often have to leave their homes quickly. According to the Albert Kennedy Trust, 69% experienced rejection, abuse, or violence that led to them needing to escape their family home.
This extra vulnerability adds to the risk of targeted violence, sexual exploitation, and mental health problems. Another difficulty brought to attention for young LGBTQ+ homeless people is the requirement for a local connection.
With 69% of LGBTQ+ people homeless due to prejudice and discrimination from their families, many will search for social networks where they can feel loved, belonging, and support. According to research by Stonewall, 67% of LGBT people consider communities and social groups to allow them to be themselves and, for the first time, embrace their identity. For many, this is a lifeline when their mental health or other coping strategies are failing them.
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