A study has revealed some ‘worrying’ trends about how society treats LGBTQ+ people

LGBTQ+ balloons
Steve Topple

A new report has revealed how LGBTQ+ people feel about living in social housing. And the study’s author says the results are “disappointing and worrying”.

“Disappointing and worrying”

The University of Surrey and Goldsmiths, University of London questioned over 260 LGBTQ+ people who lived in social housing. The universities asked [pdf, p2] them:

  • Where they live and who visits their home.
  • Whether they feel part of a community or not.
  • What they think of their social housing provider.

The results were mixed. Dr Andrew King, Co-Director of the Centre for Research on Ageing and Gender and lead researcher on the survey, said:

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It is disappointing and worrying that in 2018 a significant number of social housing tenants still feel unsafe and experience harassment in their own neighbourhoods. What we have seen is that many feel that their concerns and complaints are not being given proper attention by housing providers.

Where people live and who visits their homes

The survey revealed that [pdf, p6]:

  • 32% of people did not feel safe in their neighbourhood, and this figure was 60% for trans people.
  • 34% were completely open with their neighbours about their gender or sexuality; 35% were not open at all.
  • Also, 36% reported that neighbours visiting their homes made them feel uncomfortable. This figure rose to 91% for trans people.
  • 21% said they felt uncomfortable having repair people in their homes, and 24% said the same of their landlord.
  • 20% of gay men changed their home environment when people visited their homes.

One gay man said [pdf, p7]:

[Housing association] have got various different engineers for whatever it is and, you know, I’m very, very wary of who they’re going to be sending here. Are they going to pick up the fact that I’m gay? When it’s a male coming here, is there enough time for me to get rid of those pictures or whatever, they all come off the shelf.

Do LGBTQ+ social housing residents feel part of a community?

Results from the survey showed [pdf, p8]:

  • 43% of people felt a sense of belonging to their local area; this was lowest among trans people (23%). This compared to a non-LGBTQ+ result of 82%.
  • 26% said they felt ‘always’ or ‘mostly’ lonely in the area where they live.

One trans respondent noted [pdf, p9]:

I see all the other people here [other residents] with their little cliques and stuff… You know, I think they [the housing provider] could do a bit more to make it known that they do offer support.

What do LGBTQ+ people think of their housing provider?

The survey found that [pdf, p10]:

  • 37% of people thought their housing association was not responsive to their concerns.
  • 59% of people said their housing association had never asked about their gender or sexuality. But people’s feelings were mixed as to whether this was appropriate.
  • 31% of people “agreed” or “strongly agreed” that their housing provider deals effectively with harassment. But 34% “disagreed” or “strongly disagreed” with this.

A lesbian respondent said [pdf, p11]:

I don’t see anything that suggests that they are [supportive of LGBTQ+ people]. They may well tick the diversity box and abide by their kind of law but they don’t do anything other than that. And I think that’s what it’s about … it’s about going above and beyond what you’re expected to do in the law.

Housing associations need to do more

Overall, the study’s authors found [pdf, p3] that, “despite equality laws”, LGBTQ+ people did not feel “listened to, taken seriously or treated equally”.

King summed up by saying:

Social housing providers need to improve the lines of communication between staff and residents, and develop supportive procedures to deal with complaints of abuse and harassment. Housing providers also need to be more openly LGBTQ+ supportive, train their staff on a regular basis and as some people we interviewed put it ‘go above and beyond’ the basic requirements of equality legislation.

LGBTQ+ social housing tenants need to know they are valued tenants who are treated fairly and with respect.

Featured image via gildas_f/Flickr

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