Homelessness in the LGBT+ Community

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2016 National LGBT Conference
13 July 2016
Carried as Amended

Conference notes the report from Albert Kennedy Trust (AKT) (2015), which highlights the growing plight of young lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, who find themselves homeless.

The report found that LGBT young people are at a significantly higher risk of exposure to a range of experiences that are associated with becoming homeless – notably parental rejection, familial physical, sexual and emotional abuse, familial violence, and bullying within education, and that they believe their identification as LGBT was instrumental to these experiences.

Once homeless, LGBT youth are more likely to experience targeted violence and discrimination, develop substance abuse problems and be exposed to sexual exploitation than their non-LGBT peers. Such experiences are inevitably linked to significantly higher levels of mental and physical ill health reported by homeless LGBT young people, compared to their non-LGBT peers.

This is compounded by the findings that homeless LGBT young people are less likely to seek help or support, and when they do, they are faced with limited understanding of their experiences, and an assumption of heterosexuality. In a survey of housing providers, even though all of the organisations stated that homeless LGBT young people were likely to have different needs, AKT found that just 2.6% had designed targeted LGBT services that were being implemented and accessed appropriately. Cuts to housing services have made things worse for LGBT homeless people in recent years; although they have multiple and complex needs, agencies are offering increasingly generic support. AKT concluded that homeless LGBT young people are one of the most disenfranchised and marginalised groups within the United Kingdom.

Local authorities across the country are implementing their homelessness policies in such a way that disregards the significantly increased vulnerability of homeless LGBT young people, and not therefore accepting them as having a priority need, and evading the statutory duty that would be placed on them to secure housing for these vulnerable young people. The Supreme Court ruling in the case of Hotak and others (Appellants) v London Borough of Southwark and another (Respondents) [2015] UKSC 30, stated that local authorities must take into account their duties under the equality act, focussing on relevant protected characteristics, their extent and likely effect if and when homeless – ultimately deciding whether the applicant is vulnerable and in priority need as a result.

Conference fears that this is not happening and deplores these circumstances; conference calls upon the National Committee to:

1. Raise awareness of and support for the work of organisations like Albert Kennedy Trust in addressing homelessness amongst young LGBT people;

2. Publicise and promote examples of good practice in provision of specialist LGBT housing services and campaign for their adoption in every local authority;

3. Support the call for increased training for homelessness workers to recognise the additional vulnerabilities that can arise for young LGBT people which may trigger the statutory duty to secure housing.