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Help if you're homeless and LGBTQ+

You can count as homeless even if you have somewhere to stay.

For example, if you:

  • experience abuse from family members or a partner

  • feel unsafe where you live or stay for any other reason

Abuse does not just mean physical violence. It includes emotional and psychological abuse, and controlling behaviour.

You might be homeless if you cannot talk about or express your LGBTQ+ identity at home because you're scared you will be threatened or evicted.

Help and advice from LGBTQ+ charities

You could get support from these charities if you are homeless or living in an unsafe place:

They do not have emergency housing but can help in other ways.

akt also have an online support hub with useful guides and advice.

The Zoteria app lets you report LGBTQ+ hate crimes. It also tells you about LGBTQ+ support services across the UK.

Free specialist helplines

Galop helpline
0800 999 5428
For LGBTQ+ people experiencing abuse

Karma Nirvana
0800 5999 247
For anyone at risk of honour based abuse or forced marriage

Micro Rainbow helpline
0800 358 5851
For LGBTQI+ people seeking asylum in the UK or who cannot get benefits because of immigration rules

Emergency housing and help from the council

You might need to leave home or move out quickly. For example:

  • if family or friends ask you to leave

  • to stay safe or look after your mental health

Ask the council for homeless help. This is called a homeless application.

Most people can get some help but not everyone gets emergency housing.

Do not give up your home before you speak to the council.

If you're under 18, social services should also help. This is a different team at the council.

Who can get emergency housing?

The council should give you emergency housing if they think you could be homeless and have a 'priority need'. This is a legal term.

You are very likely to have a priority need if you are:

  • pregnant or have children with you

  • under 21 and spent time in care when you were younger

  • homeless because of domestic abuse from your family, partner or ex

You could also have a priority need if you are 'vulnerable'. For example, because of a disability or for another special reason.

Vulnerable has a special meaning in housing law. It means you are more at risk if you become homeless than most other people.

Read our priority need guide to find out more about showing you are vulnerable.

Answering personal questions

You can take a friend or support worker to your homeless assessment interview.

A council homeless officer will ask some personal questions about your situation.

Tell them about things that you are dealing with or are getting worse. For example:

  • your mental or physical health

  • relationships with your family

  • using drink or drugs to cope

  • staying with people or in places where you do not feel safe

Try to answer questions openly and explain why if you find it hard to answer.

Ask for a private interview room if you do not want to talk about things in a reception area or open office.

You might be asked about:

  • abuse from your family, partner or ex

  • your sexuality or gender identity

The homeless officer should ask you about these things with care and respect.

Ask to speak to someone else if they do not do this.

The homeless team must ask you first if they want to pass your personal information on to others. For example, to a housing provider.

Find out how the homeless team should help with domestic abuse.

Some people get a bad service from the council or in temporary housing.

This should not stop you asking for the help you need but it is something to be aware of.

Stay calm if someone at the council does not treat you fairly. You can complain later.

Equality law and discrimination

The Equality Act 2010 makes it illegal for the council or housing providers to discriminate based on:

These are the legal terms used in the law.

Trans people are protected at any stage of transition. You do not need to have started hormones, had surgery, or have a gender recognition certificate.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission have more on gender reassignment.

Example: Trans discrimination during a homeless application

Jo is 18. She lives at home with her dad.

Her dad is emotionally abusive and physically violent.

Jo asks for help from the council. She tells a homeless officer what is going on at home.

At first the officer seems quite sympathetic. She agrees that Jo seems to be homeless and that she has a priority need because of the abuse at home.

But then she says Jo cannot stay in a local safe house for women under 21. The officer does not check. She just assumes Jo cannot stay there.

The homeless officer is wrong. The safe house is trans inclusive. Staff do a risk assessment for anyone who stays there to keep everyone safe.

The officer finds Jo a room in a B&B.

Jo says she is scared to stay there because she has never lived away from home. She is also worried she will be bullied as a trans woman.

At this point the officer's tone changes. She says it might be best for Jo to go back to her dad's and live by his rules until she can leave home.

The council is breaking both equality and housing laws.

The homeless officer has treated Jo differently because she is a trans woman. She has also advised Jo to return to somewhere she is at risk of domestic abuse.

How to deal with bad service or discrimination

An adviser or solicitor could help with things like:

  • discrimination due to a protected characteristic

  • challenging temporary housing if it's not safe for you

  • being turned away or told there's no proof of your situation

  • a review if you get a letter that says you are not homeless or do not have a priority need

Making a complaint

You can also complain to the council about bad service.

If you are not happy with their response, you can go to the Local Government & Social Care Ombudsman (LGSCO). This organisation looks at complaints about council services.

How to complain to the LGSCO

You can use the LGSCO online complaint form.

If you cannot use the form you can phone them on 0300 061 0614

Last updated: 12 May 2024

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