Keeping it in the room: health, happiness and living in Berlin
Austerity measures imposed on housing, health and police services are pushing LGBT people to the margins of society, according to a report commissioned by the Unison union.
Interviews with 113 LGBT people by NatCen Social Research revealed that some young people were on the verge of homelessness because of issues round their sexuality or gender identity, and a lack of safe and supportive housing options. For some young people, coming out resulted in being kicked out of the family home.
Unison national officer Carola Towle said: ‘It is very worrying that LGBT people are being hit so hard. We can’t be turning back the clock to a time when people were frightened to come out. It seems anti-LGBT discrimination is regaining a hold in society.’
The survey revealed that the closure of specialised health services could trigger a rise in the number of undiagnosed sexual infections, with some participants saying they would not want to use general health services. Some expressed a fear in the rise of unsafe and risky sexual behaviour and that fewer people would be tested for HIV. This was particularly true for people of minority ethnic background.
There is also a growing perception of feeling ‘less safe’ in the streets and more vulnerable to discrimination. The cut or loss to initiatives that help LGBT people report hate crimes meant some raised concerns that LGBT discrimination was ‘creeping back into society’. The police cuts on equality and diversity advisors, for example, made this feeling worse.
Some people described an increasing sense of isolation due to a perceived rise of homophobia – LGBT people said they felt gradually disconnected from public services and less engaged with their local community. Others felt marginalised, but described a feeling of guilt for asking for their needs to be met when there are other groups needing support.
Similarly to other groups, LGBT people talked about earning less from zero-hour contracts, having their pay frozen for years, struggling to meet basic costs such as household bills, travel costs, making them more likely to use payday loans and food banks.
One participant said he ‘had gone without medication on occasion because cost has become prohibitively high.’
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