Issues of poverty are intersectional; they impact communities in different ways and for different reasons. Research shows that over one third of LGBTIQ+ people living in London face significant financial hardship and lack sufficient financial resources to maintain a suitable standard of living. A report published in 2017 by the London Assembly Health Committee suggests that financial hardship is exacerbated by experiences of discrimination which make it harder for LGBTIQ+ people living in London to earn money, stay financially secure and pursue their goals.
Those who identify as LGBTIQ+ are also more likely to suffer from depression, anxiety, paranoia, schizophrenia, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Being LGBTIQ+ doesn’t cause this, but the experiences that many LGBTIQ+ persons face such as homophobia and transphobia make the issues of mental health and poverty more prevalent.
Research also suggests that discrimination against the LGBTIQ+ community increases the chances of homelessness and extreme poverty. Young LGBTIQ+ people currently comprise up to one quarter of the youth homeless population in Britain. The Albert Kennedy Trust organisation that supports young LGBTIQ+ people, estimated that 150,000 were homeless or at risk of homelessness as a result of intolerance . Stonewall Housing, a London-based organisation which offers specialist advice and support to LGBTIQ+ people, says that two thirds of young people who access their services state their housing problems are directly linked to their sexual orientation or gender identity.
For this reason, solutions to poverty and mental illness need to intersectional; they need to take into account the sexual orientations and gender identities of those who are in need of help. The government seems to be taking this position more seriously, with the Equalities Office conducting research to help better understand LGBTIQ+ people’s experiences of homelessness, the challenges they face, and to enable tailored support to be provided. But who knows how long this may take.
Right now, LGBTIQ+ people are facing a mental health crisis with limited resources and with minimal financial support. Organisations are calling on the government to enact immediate change; with better referral pathways between housing services to ensure the safeguarding of vulnerable LGBTIQ+ persons, homelessness data to include gender diverse, trans and non-binary identities and for protections against LGBTIQ+ discrimination to be strengthened and more accessible. These are only small steps necessary for tackling a pandemic of economic and social violence experienced by the LGBTIQ+ community.
Words by Didier Muller