Monday, 15 June 2009

Gay Rights... In Housing???

We live in a country with rather draconian rules about equality. Draconian in that some times they lean a bit too heavily in favour of minority groups, in my opinion. But whatever my opinions on these things are, they do have practical benefits and us LGBT people are fairly well protected in terms of services being provided to us not being adversely affected by homophobia.

So suggestions like this one which suppose that members of the GLBT have specific needs in such areas as housing makes me a little annoyed. I can see a very strong case for disabled people (mental and physical disabilities) having specific housing needs. It goes without saying. But do LGBT people really have them? I don't think so and to even suggest such a thing beggars belief. Just because I fall in love with people of my own sex does not influence my needs for housing. One commentator valiantly suggests some issues:

"- we want our identity and lifestyle choices to be respected in our dealings with our housing provider, and its staff. We shouldn't need to anticipate homophobic attitudes, any more than we'd expect to encounter racist or sexist ones, and it shouldn't get to the stage of having to complain about it."

Erm... Yes. So does everyone! What identity? We each have our own identities and I would hope, as long as they weren't aggressive ones, that any housing association would respect everyone's right to their own identity. Lifestyle choice? Erm... do gay people have a particular lifestyle choice? I find the suggestion offensive.

All people, regardless of any other factor, should not expect to be treated rudely or badly just because of some irrational dislike on behalf of their landlord. Why should the GLBT community be particularly targeted? It should be a universal thing.

"- we want a sympathetic and effective response to homphobic hate-crime, bullying and harrassment, and neighbourhood purtsuits."

Hate crime is something I've always had a problem with. A crime is a crime. You vandalise something and say your neighbour is a slut, it's a crime. Call them queer and it's a hate crime. Does not make sense to me at all. A crime is a crime, and should be discouraged and punished as necessary. All tenants should expect sympathetic responses to bullying and harassment. Effective responses are also desirable although the way housing is currently run might be more of a pipe dream. But a universal one!

- we want recognition that domestic violence and happens in same-sex relationships just as much as straight ones, and practical help and support when it does.

Again, shouldn't this be true of everyone? Female on male violence is one particularly ignored one.

- we want recognition of the particular difficulties faced by young gay people, who are often especially vulnerable to homelessness, exploitation, abuse, and danger.

And other young people aren't??

- when we are old, we want our sexuality to be treated with dignity and respect, and not as if it and we have grown invisible.

What does this mean? Shouldn't everyone be treated with respect regardless of age and sexuality??? Do you want people to be like "Oh you're gay AND old. CONGRATULATIONS!!!" as if it is somehow noteworthy? All folks of advanced years are sexual creatures, because (shock horror) they are still the bloody same people they were when they were "young". It's not something that should ever need to be acknowledged.

Truly, it is time we all moved beyond this stupidity, and start fighting for universal rights. If one wants housing to be tailored to specific needs, then that should be done on an individual basis. You don't go installing a ramp on every disabled home as not every disabled person is in need of one. You tailor it to their needs. That should be true of everybody, not just specific "special interest" groups.

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the likely lad. said...

You come from a uniquely gay British perspective. That's all I'll say. As an American, your comments make me want to scream "Uncle Tom!" until I'm blue in the face. That's mainly, though, because we don't have any sort of protections from housing discrimination in this country. American LGBT youth have a suicide rate four times higher than that of their straight peers, and the homeless rate is also higher.

When you can still legally be fired from your job for being gay, I guess you have a different perspective on legal equality.

Jae said...

Actually I completely agree. We need to stop spending gay charity money on corporate reeducation (such as being carried out here by Stonewall) and start sending it to make a difference for those DYING to be gay in other countries. And even to our American cousins.

As I've said in similar previous posts, nothing annoys me more than privileged British gays moaning about their rights whilst 12 year old boys are being abused in Iraq by their police force because they were forced into male prostitution by their disgusting parents. Grr...

Alan said...


I agree with most of what you have said. But I think the point being made about being old and still having your sexuality acknowledged is a good one. I know an elderly gay couple who finally could not look after themselves and had to move into a care home. They were forbidden from sharing a room. It was not something the staff had been trained to cope with. Their sexuality and their relationship was simply disregarded. I know that, even with a birthday coming up, you are far away from having to face that situation. But it is a real problem for some older gay men.

Jae said...

Good example. Something that really does need to be tackled. But I also think that is part of a general problem of treating those in care with dignity.

The staff shouldn't need to be trained to deal with that sort of thing. It's simply common sense. Sadly wages are so atrociously low in care homes (I get paid more than 3 times as much as carers do in the company I work for, just to be a call centre agent) and you get the staff you pay for.

But still that example at least showed me how it could be an issue in the social case industry! Thank you.