World Homelessness Day: More LGBTIQ Australians sleeping rough

LGBTIQ Homelessness youth. Homeless person lies on the concrete in stock photo alex greenwich
Photo: Adobe Stock

Today is World Homelessness Day (October 10), a day to spotlight the issue of homelessness in our community.

Today, an estimated 116,000 Australians, and 20,000 in Queensland, will sleep rough, couch surf or sleep in temporary lodgings. The Australian Bureau of Statistics reported homelessness increased by 14% between the 2011 and 2016 censuses.

And sadly research shows that LGBTIQ Australians are disproportionately affected by homelessness.

Family rejection on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity was the most frequently cited factor contributing to LGBTIQ homelessness, according to research.

A 2017 study by the Pride Foundation Australia also found experiences of family conflict often led to LGBTQ youth leaving home at an earlier age than non-LGBTIQ peers.

The research found one in eight Australians have experienced homelessness. But this rose to one in three people who identify as lesbian, bisexual, and gay. Rates were even higher for transgender and gender diverse people.

Explaining the study in 2017, head researcher Ruth McNair said trans and gender diverse people appeared to experience rejection earlier than LGB people.

“Sexual orientation for most parents, well they get it. But with trans issues they just don’t often believe their kids or go a lot further and apply abuse around it,” McNair said.

“For many of these trans young people the rejection is not only of the person themselves but their identity. They feel like they have nowhere to go.”

World Homelessness Day: LGBTIQ people face discrimination in services

The research discovered that most LGBTQ participants had experienced discrimination because of their sexuality or gender diversity. For many, this directly impacted on their ability to find safe accommodation.

Fears of and actual negative experiences within services were leading homeless LGBTIQ young people to avoid shelters and assistance and stay on the streets.

LGBTIQ people reported experiences misgendering, harassment, violence and discrimination in shared accommodation facilities, rooming houses and services.

Trans and gender diverse people also reported discrimination in private rentals. Ignorance of non-binary identities created problems in “highly gendered” homelessness services, the research found.

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Casey Gregory

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