The housing industry needs to be more aware of the LGBTI immigrant community’s needs
Fight for equality
Very little attention is given to lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender and intersex asylum seekers, but in 2009, same-sex relations were criminalised in 70 countries. The number of LGBTI asylum seekers coming into the UK is relatively small – estimated at between 1,300 and 1,800 a year – but it is obvious that there is a human rights and equality issue that we should address.
The Over not out – refreshed report, which was launched on 4 July, focuses on the rights and treatment of LGBTI asylum seekers and encourages social landlords to do more in this area.
The report, commissioned by the Metropolitan Migration Foundation and written by MBARC, a social justice consultancy, captures the changes that have taken place since 2009. Although it is a positive story in many respects, a number of challenges remain. The report highlights the fact that the London Housing Strategy, published in 2010, ignored the areas of migration entirely, despite a commitment to address migrant housing issues in the London refugee integration strategy, London enriched.
The issue isn’t going away, either – data gathered by Stonewall, an organisation that works for equality and justice for lesbians, gay men and bisexuals, shows that, in the last year, the number of asylum seekers and refugees it has seen has more than doubled, with support needs including issues around mental health, debt, HIV and sex work.
On the positive side, the Chartered Institute of Housing has issued guidance on delivering housing services for LGBTI customers and asylum seekers and refugees, though not specifically LGBTI asylum seekers and refugees. So there has been some progress, but there is still a way to go.
It is by working together that we can fight for equality and help support the people who live in the communities we are responsible for.
Paul Birtill is director of Metropolitan Migration Foundation