Tens of thousands of people have marched to demand equality for LGBTIQ people in recent years. In 2016, we have seen an outpouring of support for marriage equality, for victims of hate crimes, and for the Safe Schools anti-bullying program.
While we must keep the pressure up on marriage equality, we also need immediate action on other issues that young and working class queer people face. Campaigns for LGBTIQ rights must involve demands for more services for LGBTIQ people, affordable housing, and an end to discrimination in schools and workplaces.
There is a severe housing crisis in Melbourne, and young queer people are disproportionately affected. According to the ABS there are currently over 105,000 homeless people across Australia. Of them, over 44,000 are under 25 years old. Peak research bodies and support services estimate that around 40% of these young, homeless people are LGBTIQ.
In Victoria, up to 40,000 people languish on the public housing waiting list. Crisis accommodation is overflowing, as up to 10,000 people wait for emergency shelter. And yet at the same time, more than 80,000 homes in Victoria sit empty!
Being LGBTIQ shouldn’t mean a life of social exclusion and homelessness. Measures to defend the Safe Schools program in Victoria by the Andrews government are a step in the right direction, but way more action is needed!
The Andrews government’s recently announced $109 million homelessness package will only create 120 new or ‘developed’ housing units. The money will be spent over 5 years, which works out to only $22 million each year. Similarly, the $218 million domestic violence package also announced recently will be spent over 10 years. And this will be invested into social housing and rent assistance, rather than building more public housing stock.
To put these figures into context, Andrews spent $20 million purely on a new state logo and advertising campaign in 2015.
‘Social housing’ places people’s homes in the hands of private providers, allowing them to make a profit from the roofs over our heads. This drives up housing costs in the long run, and provides no guarantee for ongoing public housing provision. We need public housing, not social housing, and rent control along with rent assistance.
The money allocated is nowhere near enough to begin with. There is much more wealth available in society – but it is locked up in private profits and tax concessions to businesses.
In order to build a grassroots LGBTIQ movement we must put young and working class queer people to the fore, and combine demands for legal equality – such as marriage rights – with demands that address the day-to-day pressures faced by LGBTIQ people, such as the crisis of homelessness that exists.
In addition to higher risks of homelessness, LGBTIQ people are paid on average 15% less than straight people, with many young LGBTIQ people working in low paid, insecure work. Many also find it difficult to access safe and non-judgmental health services, and LGBTIQ people are three times more likely to experience depression and five times more likely to attempt suicide than the general population.
The reason LGBTIQ-phobia exists is related to the kind of society we live in. Neither of the major parties really represent the interests of ordinary people. They are big business parties only concerned with pleasing their conservative backers. We need to build a new political force that can fight for LGBTIQ rights, but also a force that fights for a socialist society where real equality and rights are guaranteed.
The Socialist Party calls for:
* Immediate investment in public housing, at levels sufficient to wipe out waiting lists: 120 new or developed units is not enough!
* Investment in safe and LGBTIQ-friendly crisis accommodation services.
* Raising of the minimum wage and the scrapping of plans to slash penalty rates.
* Opposing cuts to Medicare and investing in safe and accessible healthcare services. Defend and extend the Safe Schools Coalition program in schools across Australia.
* Building of a grassroots LGBTIQ movement with young and working class queers to the fore in the fight for marriage equality and an end to discrimination.
The Socialist Party has called a rally for December 9th at the office of Martin Foley, the Minister for Housing and Minister for Equality, to demand real action on housing for LGBTIQ people!
Join us 4:30pm, Dec 9th at 50 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne. To join the campaign, text ‘LGBTIQ’ to 0432 447 063
By Socialist Party reporters