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LGBTIQ advocates call on government to address homelessness crisis

LGBTIQ rights organisations have jointly called on the Australian government to take action against the shockingly high rates of homelessness in the community.

In a submission to the federal inquiry into homelessness, the Victorian Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby, Transgender Victoria, the New South Wales Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby, and Intersex Human Rights Australia have warned the government that LGBTIQ people are much more vulnerable than others.

The groups have called on the Morrison government to name LGBTIQ people as a priority in the National Housing and Homelessness Agreement, as well as to fund research and develop LGBTIQ inclusion guidelines for the sector.

Young LGBTIQ people are at increased risk of homelessness, often due to family rejection, while older members of the community may be discriminated against when seeking accommodation.

Recent research by the Victorian Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby found that 47.5% of the LGBTIQ people surveyed had experienced homelessness or housing insecurity, or been at risk of homelessness.

As well as rough sleeping in places like streets and cars, homelessness encompasses a range of situations where secure housing is unavailable, such as couch surfing and temporary accommodation.

Trans and gender diverse people were most at risk, with 79% reporting they had been homeless and 62% experiencing discrimination in the housing market.

New South Wales Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby co-convenor Jack Whitney said that the problem was especially critical during the COVID-19 pandemic, QNews has reported.

“Housing and shelter is a basic human right,” said Whitney.

“It should be a right experienced by all and practiced in government legislation.”

Transgender Victoria chair Brenda Appleton said that trans people face “multiple layers of discrimination” and need “inclusive services where they feel respected and safe”.

Victorian Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby co-convenor Nevena Spirovska said that little research has addressed the causes and experiences of homelessness for LGBTIQ people.

Spirovska added that young people, trans or intersex people, and people with disabilities are at greater risk.

Statistics on intersex people affected by homelessness are difficult to establish because services rarely report intersex status among their demographics.

The advocacy groups have also called for the government to scrap current legislation that allows religious organisations to discriminate against LGBTIQ people in providing homelessness services.

The inquiry into homelessness, launched in February, is expected to resume when parliament returns in August.

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