Title: Give Us Shelter (Part One) Credit: Craig Young Comment Thursday 22nd September 2011 - 12:33pm1316651580 Article: 10832 Rights
In the first of two articles on housing policy and LGBT needs, I'll be focusing attention on the situation overseas. Mate magazine had a timely article on this subject, authored by Sander Hiskemuller and Sara Luitjers. The article centred on the plight of LGBT homless youth in Britain, the United States and Australia. Evicted from their family homes after they came out, at risk from homophobic domestic violence or more generally dysfunctional and abusive families, these youth exist through street survival sex work, charity soup kitchens and second-hand clothing. They tend to be invisible and for too long, their plight was neglected. even by LGBT advocacy organisations within those societies. In 2007, the US National Gay and Lesbian Task Force authored a report entitled An Epidemic of Homelessness, which changed the public profile of this situation. It makes for grim reading- NGLTF estimates that half of all homeless youth are LGBT. One in four LGBT teenagers are forced to leave home after they come out. Of LGBT homeless youth, sixty percent have contemplated suicide, and survival street hustling and substance abuse characterise their lives. Sadly, nearly one quarter of US LGBT homeless youth are HIV+ and half of LGBT homeless youth have unprotecred sex. Unsuitable and abusive foster home arrangements, hostile youth shelter environments and conservative religious emergency shelter providers add to their desperate situations. In London, though, there are coordinated organisational responses to the situation of LGBT homeless youth. The Albert Kennedy Trust is a long-standing LGBT youth charity and works with veteran LGBT rights advocates within Stonewall and the general youth charity Jigsaw to deal with the plight described here. They provide shelter, educational and employmnent opportunities. Some are from South Asian Muslim and West African Christian backgrounds where arranged marriages are commonplace and suffer horrendous domestic abuse if they disclose their actual sexual identities. Unfortunately, the Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition have tightened eligibility and access rules for housing benefit. Chronic service underfunding and cutbacks also exist in the United States, but fortunately, supportive celebrities like Susan Sarandon, Cyndi Lauper, Lady Gaga and Alan Cummings have spoken out about this issue. In response, the Obama presidency has also addressed homophobia and transphobia in the context of homelessness policy in its report, Opening Doors: A Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent andEnd Homelessness. What is the situation in New Zealand? In Part Two, I'll investigate that question. Recommended: Sander Hiskemuller and Sara Luitjers: "Gay Astray: The Young and Homeless" Mate: Summer 2011: 44-51. Albert Kennedy Trust: Stonewall UK: Jigsaw: Opening Doors: Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness: National Gay and Lesbian Task Force: An Epidemic of Homelessness (2007): www.thetaskfor Craig Young - 22nd September 2011    
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