LGBT+ Lifestyle

No place like home? The hidden LGBTQ+ housing struggle

Finding a place to live in Edinburgh is hard. Acquiring a safe and secure living space is akin to running a race in a housing market so competitive and brutal. The difficulty of this is, however, increased for those who are part of the LGBTQ+ community. This claim might raise an eyebrow or two: surely not in progressive Scotland? 

Indeed loopholes in implementation of the law make discrimination possible, making this issue a hidden one. Despite the Equality Act 2010, which makes identity-based discrimination a hate crime, according to Homeless Network Scotland, “77% [of young homeless LGBTQ+ people] state that their LGBTQ+ identity was a causal factor in becoming homeless.” This unveils an ugly truth: identity-based discrimination is still prominent in the housing market. 

Most would agree that housing is an important basic human necessity and right. It is worth noting that the Covid-19 pandemic has given rise to an even more pressing need for everyone to have safe and secure shelters. LGBTQ+ folks facing discrimination due to their sexual and gender orientation are thus more likely to be excluded from having this need fulfilled. 

Research from Peter Matthews and Chris Poyner finds that few service providers reported “homophobic or transphobic harassment of tenants or service users” as data on sexual and gender orientation is not being recorded. This sheds light into the indirect discrimination faced by LGBTQ+ people, as service providers are hesitant to ask people their sexual or gender identity due to taboo and stigma. LGBTQ+ folks still have to carry the burden of their identity being perceived as a shameful one. 

So, where do we go from here? The legislation that outlaws identity-based discrimination already exists. In fact it has existed for over a decade. To move forward, we need to make sure that it is actually being implemented and that what it promises is truly being delivered. Reformed is needed. 

Inside Housing and HouseProud came up with an action plan for LGBTQ+ housing, including the requirement for housing providers to “come out” as being LGBTQ+ friendly as well as for them to provide appropriate and intersectional training for all their staff. Action plans such as this are necessary to address the loopholes in the implementation of and the aspects overlooked by the Equality Act 2010.

We have come a long way in accepting and celebrating the LGBTQ+ community. LGBTQ+ history month is an apt time for us to acknowledge the progress made, progress that many countries are still fighting to gain. However, along with this, there needs to be an awareness that discrimination towards LGBTQ+ people in Scotland still exists, and that we should focus on implementing the policies already in place, reforming them to ensure that they continue to protect a group that has been marginalised for such a large part of human history.

image: katemangostar via freepik