Today is the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.
LGBT+ people around the world are at particular risk of poverty because of discrimination based on SOGIESC, including the lack of access of legal gender recognition, criminalisation of same-sex activity, and the absence of LGBTI-specific anti-discrimination measures.
Sexual orientation, gender identity and expression or sex characteristics often impact one’s access to the labour market, to police protection, to ability to secure stable housing, ability to receive a quality education and healthcare, or rely on family for support.
As the UN Independent Expert on SOGI Victor Madrigal-Borloz has pointed out:
Poverty is a scourge that affects disproportionally some populations and communities, among them #LGTB. Barriers created by negation and stigma are chief factors propel lesbian, gay, trans, bisexual and GD [gender diverse] persons into spirals of exclusion.
Earlier this year, the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) organised an event entitled "A poverty perspective on LGBTI", stating that:
People within the LGBTI community often struggle with poverty in disproportionate and complex ways due to their multiple and intersecting identities, while facing structural and societal norms.
In Ghana, to take only one example, the UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, Phillip Alston, has highlighted how stigma makes LGBT+ people vulnerable to extreme poverty.
Stigmatization and discrimination make it impossible for them to become productive members of the community because when people know they are a LGBTI person they are thrown out from jobs, schools, homes and even from their community. Some of them choose to hide their sexual orientation and gender identity and are pushed to marry against their will; others leave their homes and communities to find new opportunities and start a new life. Discrimination against LGBTI people makes them vulnerable to extreme poverty and LGBTI people living in poverty experience intersecting forms of discrimination that prevent the full enjoyment of their human rights.
Human Rights Watch reporting echoed Alston’s findings:
Conversations I had with numerous LGBT people in Ghana underscored the urgency of legalizing adult consensual same-sex conduct. For example, a 26-year-old lesbian described the frustration she felt when her employer fired her after he found out she was a lesbian. A 28-year-old lesbian echoed these sentiments, saying “the problem in Accra is that LGBT people can’t get jobs, nobody wants to hire them, and when family members find out about your sexual orientation, they don’t pay your school fees.”
It is crucial to take specific measures to ensure that the realities of LGBT+ people are included in policies which aim to fight poverty.
Want to learn more?
You can watch the entire event organised by the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) on "A poverty perspective on LGBTI".
In the US context, the National LGBTQ Task Force published a report last year, “Intersecting Injustice: A National Call to Action, Addressing LGBTQ Poverty and Economic Justice for All.”
In Australia, the SW Council of Social Service of NSW (NCOSS) published a report “Beyond the myth of ‘pink privilege’: Disadvantage and poverty amongst LGBTI people in NSW” revealing that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people in NSW are experiencing higher levels of disadvantage than other Australians, putting them at greater risk of falling into poverty.