© Lesbian Information Service 1992


Brighton Council is committed to providing services to all members of the community. It recognises that lesbians and gay men face discrimination and is determined to develop policies and practices to ensure that lesbians and gay men receive an equal and accessible housing service.

This leaflet sets out the kind of services lesbians and gay men can expect from Brighton Council.

It gives a commitment to equal treatment with heterosexuals, as well as explaining areas where Brighton has taken special measures to make sure lesbians and gay men are not discriminated against, and to make up for past inequalities.

Brighton Council recognises that invisibility is a major problem for lesbians and gay men in a heterosexist society. Fear of hostility and harassment means that lesbians and gay men often do not feel able to come and express their needs. By clearly publicising our policies and services to lesbians and gay men, Brighton Council hopes to help reduce the invisibility and prejudice that lesbians and gay men face.


Brighton Council is committed to stamping out harassment of lesbians and gay men. If you are being harassed, don't put up with it - report it. We can and will take action.

Brighton Council affirms the right of lesbians and gay men to be 'out' where they live without fear of harassment. We take seriously, and act upon, all reports of harassment, however minor.

If you are being harassed in your home because of your sexuality or for any other reason, don't put up with it. Report it immediately.

If you are a Council tenant, talk to your estate manager or local Base manager. We will make arrangements for trained staff to spend time with you to discuss what has happened, and offer you advice and support in deciding how to deal with it.

We will do what we can to help you stay in your home if that is what you want to do (eg by improving security), and we will carry out any repairs and get rid of grafitti as quickly as possible. Or, if you decide to move, we will give you a high priority for transfer.

If you are being harassed by other council tenants, we can and will use our legal powers to take action against the attacker. This can include prosecuting those responsible and taking court action to evict them.

If you are a home-owner or private tenant, the Council can offer you help, advice and support. The Tenancy Relations Officer at the Housing Advice Centre deals with cases of harassment and also disputes between tenants and landlords or landladies. She can discuss possible legal remedies with you in complete confidence. Contact her on 29801 ext 3425. Outside office hours her answerphone is on 687482.

No action will be taken without your full knowledge and agreement.

If you are being severely harassed by your landlord or landlady, your parents, or people you live with or near, or if it is impossible for your whole household to live together, you may be able to make a homeless application.

Contact Brighton Council's Housing Advice Centre for more information.


Lesbian and gay Council tenants in Brighton should expect the same rights as other tenants, and are entitled to a service from the Council that meets their needs.

Joint Tenancies

A joint tenancy provides equal rights and security for both tenants. It is our practice at Brighton Council to offer joint tenancies to all new applicants for Council housing who will be living with a partner. If someone is already one of our tenants, they and their partner can apply for a joint tenancy by contacting the local District Office or local Housing Base.

Joint tenancies will be granted to any two people who have been living together for at least two years. This applies to lesbians and gay men, as well as heterosexuals.


If a Council tenant dies, in some cases, the tenancy can pass on to someone else who is living in the house or flat. This is called the right of succession.

The law gives this right to joint tenants, husbands or wives, and other family members (if they have been living in the property for at least a year). We have extended succession rights to all partners of tenants who have died, no matter how long they have been living together. This includes lesbian and gay relationships, so the partner of a lesbian or gay tenant who dies can stay on in their home as a Council tenant.

Domestic Violence

Our policy on domestic violence recognises that violence can occur within any relationship, including lesbian or gay relationships.

It also recognises that a lesbian or bisexual woman who has been living with a male partner may face violence when her partner finds out about her sexuality. Brighton Council will offer support and rehousing to any of our tenants who are suffering violence in their homes.


Housing Advice

The Council's Housing Advice Centre is open to give advice about housing problems in the private sector. Assumptions will not be made about your sexuality, and you will not be discriminated against if you come out to the advice workers. Any information you choose to give about your sexuality will be treated confidentially.


Under the law, Local Authorities have a duty to find a home for people who are homeless, in priority need, and not intentionally homeless.


Someone is considered to be homeless if there is no accommodation in the country which they can occupy, together with anyone else who normally lives with them or who might reasonably be expected to live with them. Our policy is that a household covers lesbian and gay relationships, or any people who may wish to live together, such as people who want to live with their carers.

Priority need?

You are in priority need if you or any member of your household:

* have care of dependent children, or are pregnant

* are homeless because of fire, flood or other disaster

* are vulnerable because of old age, mental or physical ilness or disability

* have suffered violence or threats of violence from someone you live with

* have some other special reason, for example, if you are a young person at risk.

Intentionally Homeless?

If someone has deliberately done (or not done) something which resulted in them being made homeless, they will not be entitled to permanent housing from the Council but they will be given advice about how to find other accommodation. Being open about your sexuality will not be used by Brighton Council as grounds for intentionality.


Brighton's new policy on Allocations has been drawn up with the aim of meeting housing need in Brighton in the fairest, most open, and most efficient way. One of its principles is "To make sure that everyone, man or woman, irrespective of their age (over 16 years) religion or ethnic origin, able-bodied or not, gay or lesbian, has the same opportunity to receive Council housing and housing advice."

Housing Needs Register

This new list will allow anyone who feels they are in housing need to register that need. This doesn't mean that everyone will be housed, but it will give the Council a clear picture of housing need in Brighton. It will also allow people to identify their own needs for housing, and will help to avoid assumptions being made about people's household structure.

Priority Groups

Households on the Housing Needs Register will be offered housing according to decisions made by Councillors about targeting the different priority groups within the Register. The 'Priority' group covers those suffering harassment (including harassment because of their sexuality), those facing domestic violence, and those who need rehousing for urgent medical reasons.


The Council's Housing Advice Centre has leaflets and information about Housing Associations, Co-ops, and Accommodation Agencies. Some Co-ops and Housing Associations have Equal Opportunities policies which include lesbians and gay men.

Brighton Gay Switchboard has lists of accommodation available to rent for lesbians and gay men. The Switchboard is open Mondays to Saturdays 6-10 pm and Sundays 8-10 pm on 690825.


Brighton Council Housing Services has a working group on the housing needs of lesbians and gay men. The working group involves representatives from lesbian and gay community groups, Council tenants, and Council staff. New members are welcome. If you would like to join the working group or have any comments or suggestions on how the Council could improve its housing service to lesbians and gay men, please contact the group (in confidence if you wish): c/o Policy and Research, Brighton Housing Services, 21-22 Old Stein, Brighton, Sussex. Telephone (0273) 713871.



Security was one of the major unmet needs voiced by the women's caucus, a number of the lesbians there expressing fears about isolation and vulnerability, in terms of harassment and eviction. Others expressed anger at simply not being able to live their lives openly without fear of losing their homes.

This is a well-founded fear and is borne out by the findings of Stonewall Housing Association; that 45% of those applying gave harassment as a factor in their homelessness, and of Homeless Action (a women's housing project with a 30% lesbian target) that harassment is the major cause of homelessness for lesbians.

"While a number of councils have now recognised racial harassment and sexual harassment of women and will - in theory - transfer those whose lives are being made a misery, only a handful will even consider transferring lesbians and gay men." (Jane Dibblin, Roof).

It is important to note here that the increase in protection from harassment under the new Housing Act does not extend to harassment for being lesbian or gay.

It was clear from the caucus that few women had much faith in local authorities playing any great role in this area. Instead they saw the way forward through voluntary organisations, housing co-ops, new housing associations and through putting pressure on existing housing associations to provide the sort of secure housing they want.

Although owner-occupation was seen as another way of obtaining security, it was recognised that few could afford to buy their own homes even if they wanted to. Prices are particularly prohibitive in London and other large cities where many would choose to live. Elsewhere, women may feel vulnerable through isolation from a wider lesbian community.

Even as home-owners, it was pointed out, lesbians are at risk from harassment and may also be at risk of losing their jobs and being unable to continue mortgage repayments.

Some of the initiatives lesbians take to tackle harassment are unseen, for example, setting up house-holds together, either renting, squatting or buying. Others are unspoken; lesbians tending to gravitate to certain areas where they know other lesbians are living. Even if they are not personally acquainted, there is a security in knowing that sympathetic support is close by.

It was suggested at the caucus that lesbians push for recognition of the importance of 'lesbian streets' or even whole estates although others were concerned about the implications of ghettoisation.

The following are some of the ideas, statements and demands which emerged as a result of these discussions in the women's caucus:

-        Intervening in some way at the stage of development of housing projects.

-        Putting pressure on local councillors, trade unionists and others to listen to demands for a better housing deal; to change local authority policies and practices; to implement equal opportunities polices.

-        Publicising lesbians' own efforts in this area.

-        Getting organised on a local level; forming small groups and identifying housing needs in particular areas, then making connections with local housing authorities, local housing associations, etc.

-        Finding out what other lesbians want from housing (research) and what other lesbians are doing in this area and following it up with networking, communication, sharing information.


The caucus was attended by eight people with a range of housing experiences as providers of housing, housing adviser and as tenants.

Brief consideration was given to the various types of housing available and used by black lesbians and gay men, such as council housing, housing associations and housing co-ops, as well as the private rented and ownership sector. Of these only housing co-ops were discussed further as all the others were considered unsuitable, unresponsive or inaccessible to black lesbians and gay men.

It was generally felt that housing co-ops have so far proved to be more responsive to the needs of black lesbians and gay men and in terms of future development would appear to be a good option.

Some of the reasons for considering this to be so were as follows:

1. The nature of housing co-ops allows for members to
support each other and this might help to further develop a
sense of community among black lesbians and gays.

2. Under current Government legislation, permanent housing
co-ops would appear to be one of the few means of providing
affordable decent housing.

3. Housing co-ops would give black lesbians and gay men
more of a say in the design, development and management of
housing suitable and relevant to their specific needs and

4. Some people present had experience of living in and/or
developing housing co-ops.

It was, however, noted that although housing co-ops appear at present to be more responsive to the needs of black lesbians and gay men than other forms of housing, in general they still tend to be predominantly white and middle-class.

Discussion then moved on to the various types of housing co-ops which exist at present and how to go about setting them up. It was generally felt that there was a need for some separate housing provision for black lesbians and gay men.

General comment: there was dissatisfaction with the way in which the conference was organised, specifically about the number of black lesbians and gay men present and the way in which the caucuses were organised.

The conference advertising appeared to have been aimed primarily at housing workers and not tenants.

The caucuses were organised in such a way that black lesbians and gay men present were left with a choice of caucuses which effectively excluded them from attending any of the other caucuses which were all relevant and where the needs and experiences of black lesbians and gay men needed to be taken into account.

It was also felt that the few black lesbians and gay men present at the conference should not have been expected to be solely responsible for being aware of the housing needs of black lesbians and gay men everywhere.

There was a need for other people present to be aware of the needs and experiences of black people and to take positive action around developing and providing housing for black lesbians and gay men.

A statement to this effect was made at the plenary session of the conference.


Unfortunately, only one person attended this caucus which may say something about the organisation of the conference in terms of access for and publicising it to, differently abled lesbians and gay men.

Nevertheless, the person who attended felt it was important that there was some input from lesbians and gay men with disabilities and wrote the following notes.

Local authority provision

Social services are responsible for much special provision not housing departments.

DSS assessments, rules and definitions of disability have enormous power over individuals. For example, there is a big difference between those who are judged to be in need of residential care and those who are able to live independently with varying degrees of support.

Living in institutions

This is often part of growing up for people with disabilities, either in hospitals or special schools or both. Special schools tend to separate people off with other people with similar disabilities.

There is little teaching in these schools about sexuality and much of that is very homophobic. Institutionalisation while growing up prevents people from forming their own networks and can either result in people living in institutions for the rest of their lives or, more commonly, never wanting to go in one again, however difficult it might be to try to live independently.

Residential care

This can be either council run or private. Although a person with disabilities would be sure of getting basic care (not necessarily good quality), the institution has almost complete control over their life.

People who run these institutions tend to assume that people with disabilities have no sexuality at all and if they have, that they are heterosexual. The possibilities for conducting lesbian or gay relationships are therefore very limited.


This can take various forms:

If you come out, will you still get care at all or get it sympathetically? People know everything about you, for example, if you go out, when you go out, who you see, what mail you get.

All of this can prevent some people from receiving lesbian and gay publications. You can be refused support and co-operation in areas of which people disapprove.

Lack of contact with other lesbians and gay men; difficulties in getting out or getting information; feelings of isolation, fears of harassment or withdrawal of support are also problems associated with living in this situation.

"Independent living"

If a person lives independently but needs some particular forms of support, this is part of their housing situation.

Where these forms of support are provided by local authorities, they are open to being cut or eroded and are often unreliable in the first place.

If the support is from friends or family, there is a need to keep up a good relationship with them and this often means not discussing sexuality.

All this means that, although people with disabilities who are recognised by the system have the right to be housed and usually do get housed, there is very little real choice. And the housing and support they get often limits their lifestyle still more.

The involvement of social services, housing departments, DSS assessments and benefit rules, and doctors (who often listen more to each other and to parents than the person concerned) makes the system very complicated and difficult to understand let alone have any control over.

Adaptations to housing

These are necessary either when a person is moving to new accommodation or if they become disabled.

Getting adaptations can be a time-consuming and complicated business and usually involves various council and DSS officials calling round.

Carers and assistance

Statutory bodies rarely recognise arrangements made between friends or same-sex lovers in the way they would recognise arrangements with families.

Housing Associations

These organisations either do nothing or seem to think of people with disabilities solely in terms of wheelchair users. This is very unfortunate as housing associations, more than many other organisations, have the ability to be more flexible if they would only listen to people.


* Housing for people with disabilities is affected by attitudes, practices and funding policies of a wide range of statutory bodies.

* There is a lack of choice and control.

* There is a lack of understanding of lesbian and gay issues and disabilities by statutory bodies.

* There is a lack of understanding of lesbian and gay issues by voluntary organisations providing services for people with disabilities.

* There is a lack of understanding and willingness to change within the lesbian and gay community itself.


This workshop was presented by Denise Marshall of Stonewall Housing Association and Femi Otitoju from Haringey Council's lesbian and gay Unit.

At the start of the workshop a number of questions were posed to get discussion started:

* How can the visibility of lesbians working on housing issues be raised?

* Is there a need for more special projects for lesbians and gay men?

* What are the attitudes of different local authorities to joint tenancies for lesbians?

* How do lesbians feel about organisations such as CHAR and Shelter, for example?

* What should be done to deal with harassment of lesbian tenants?

* What are the particular needs and requirements of lesbian residents and tenants?

* What is the general nature of heterosexism within housing and what are the benefits of Equal Opportunities Policies?

The points raised in the discussion which followed were:

1) Because of Council policies not to put children above the sixth floor in tower blocks single people are often housed in high rise accommodation. The surrounding areas are often poorly lit and dangerous
for women living on their own and make it more likely and easier for lesbians to be harassed.

2) Equal Opportunities policies are a good basis to start from and housing associations, councils, hostels, co-ops etc should be persuaded to adopt them. Life in a mixed hostel can be a nightmare for lesbians.
Hostels need clearly spelt out penalties against harassment which the project is prepared to carry through.

3) Setting targets is good but care must be taken to avoid, for example, a situation where two residents out of 40 are lesbian/gay and the hostel thinks it's done its bit. There is a need for lesbian/gay
men only hostels but mixed projects must also ensure that their premises are safe and welcoming.

4) Housing lesbians all in the same area - creating a ghetto - may gain a lot of support for the individuals living there but may also result in concentrated harassment unless security is tight.

5) Tenancy conditions should state that harassment will not be tolerated and that action will be taken against perpetrators. Harassment should be a grounds for transfer and it is important that local
authorities and housing associations treat harassment seriously.

6) Prejudiced attitudes often seem to be prevalent among counter staff in housing departments. It was felt that this was related to the notion of the "deserving poor," a category of people that does not seem to
include lesbians and gay men.

7) Equal Opportunities should be part of every training course run by the Council and courses should be for both staff and councillors. This would ensure that no-one could opt out of equal opportunities training
but no-one was being forced to go.

8) The public image of housing departments, advice centres, hostels etc is not conducive to encouraging lesbians to come forward and use the service. Posters specifically welcoming enquiries from lesbians and gay men should be displayed in public areas.

9) Young lesbians are often homeless because they have been thrown out by their parents and in many cases Young lesbians leave because of sexual abuse or violence at home. Local authorities should accept as priority homeless any woman who is a victim of violence/sexual abuse in the home.

10) There is a need for research to be done specifically into the housing needs of lesbians, old and young, black and white, with children and single.

11) Housing lists should be monitored for out lesbians and gay men and targets set to encourge lesbians and gay men to use the facilities. Until the figures of out lesbians and gay men rise then the atmosphere
has not improved enough for them to feel happy about coming out and therefore more work must be done. Such monitoring should be in numbers only and not linked to people's names.

12) Efforts must be made to recruit lesbian and gay staff with anonymous monitoring of job applicants and positive advertising. It is very important that all housing agencies have staff who understand the
problems of their client group.

13) Local authorities should recognise that lesbians face harassment from neighbours and landlords and reflect this in the priority given in the assessment of their housing applications.



Chapter I: Changes in Housing:

i. section 28
ii. housing legislation
iii. equal opportunities dimensions

Chapter II: Homelessness:

A. Assessment of Priority Need

i. definition of a household
ii. assessment of local connection
iii. decisions on vulnerability
iv. other causes of vulnerability

B. Services to Clients Not in Priority Need

i. the work of the Housing Advice Service
ii. homelessness
iii. registration for waiting lists, mobility schemes and recep-

C. Temporary Accommodation
i. use of temporary accommodation
ii. bed and breakfast
iii. hostels
iv. private leasing

D. Short-Life Housing

Chapter III: Housing Management and Tenants' Rights

- background
- allocations
- harassment
- transfer
- relationship breakdown
- joint/sole tenancies
- succession
- the tenancy agreement
- new development, capital works and repairs services
- sheltered accommodation
- tenants' associations
- decentralisation

Chapter IV: Private Sector Housing

A. The Private Rented Sector
B. Owner Occupation

Chapter V: Working With Outside Agencies

A. Housing Associations and Co-ops
B. Voluntary Organisations and Advice Agencies

Chapter VI: Research, Monitoring and Publicity

A. Monitoring
B. Publicity
C. Consultation

Chapter VII: Implementation and Resources

A. Developing a Strategy
B. Implementing a Strategy
C. Resources
D. Specialist Adviser

Chapter VIII: Employment and Training

A. Employment
B. Training

Chapter IX: Health: HIV and AIDS


Stonewall is a housing association with exempt charitable status. It was registered in October 1983 as a Friendly Society under the Industrial and Provident Societies Act.

The aim of Stonewall is to provide accommodation for young lesbians and gay men who are homeless or in housing need as a result of the reaction of others to their sexuality. Initially the idea is to provide short-term accommodation, giving assistance to the residents to find permanent housing.

Homelessness Amongst Young Single People

It is obvious that good housing is a basic need, and should be a fundamental right for everyone. Yet this isn't the case. The Housing (Homeless Persons) Act 1977 acknowledges this only to the extent that certain categories of homeless people have a right to be housed by the Local Authority; for example, if there are children involved. Single homeless people only have a statutory right if they are considered 'vulnerable.' Examples of 'vulnerability' are:

        - pregnant women
        - elderly people
        - young people at risk of sexual or financial exploitation
        - physically or mentally disabled people.

In all these cases, the conditions would only apply if the homelessness is not considered to be 'intentional.' Definitions, however, are vague, and interpretations can vary widely or be made on an ad hoc basis. Decisions are often based on available resources, rather than on need. And yet the proportion of the population living as single households has risen dramatically this century - from 7.1% in 1931 to 20% in 1971, (1) and probably still higher today. The Government, and Local Authorities, have failed to respond to this change.

Thus, for the majority of single homeless people, there is no statutory right to housing at all. The alternatives are not encouraging. They could try finding a hostel - always supposing they're lucky enough to get into one, as emergency and short-stay hostels are seriously overcrowded. They're also generally institutional and lack privacy, and are only a temporary measure; most hostels either don't have access to move-on accommodation, or to only a few nominations. Single homeless people could also try a hotel or lodgings with bed and breakfast; however, recent Government attempts to remove this as an option will drastically worsen the problem. The homeless could also try privately rented flats or buying, but obviously these latter options are out of the range of the majority of young people, who, more likely than not, will be unemployed. Finally, the single homeless could try squatting, or staying with friends - or sleeping rough ...

In recent years the extent of homelessness amongst young single people has become a widely publicised cause for concern, and rightly so. However, the needs of women, black and ethnic minority people, and lesbians and gay men, all of whom are particularly vulnerable to homelessness, tend to be overlooked.

Women's homelessness is very much hidden in our society. Although the numbers involved are largely undocumented, it is known to be a huge problem. There are more single women than single men, and women are less likely to be employed and more likely to have significantly lower wages, thus restricting their access to private renting or buying. There are very few women-only hostels for the homeless, and most women feel uncomfortable and intimidated in mixed hostels.

Black and ethnic minority people bear the brunt of unemployment and are also much more likely, if employed, to have noticeably lower wages than white people. They have also to contend with racism, both institutionalised and indirect, in attempting to obtain accommodation. They are more likely to be shunted into bed and breakfasts or to the least desirable council estates. Once in these places, or in hostels, they will have to contend with racist abuse and attacks.

These groups of people are evidently under-represented amongst the residents of existing special projects for the homeless. Even so, special projects are only a stop-gap. Through economic and social oppression they are denied equal access to ordinary, decent housing at a cost they can afford.

Heterosexism is a form of oppression that is very easily hidden and dismissed. Within that context, homelessness is also more of a problem for lesbians and gay men, and it is this last problem that Stonewall is attempting to address in a way that includes women and black and ethnic minority lesbians and gays.

Homelessness Amongst Young Lesbians and Gay Men

"Mum was upset. My dad kicked me out of the house and disowned me.
They feel the same now as when I told them." (Female, 18).

"(My mother) said I was evil and acting against God's will and asked me to leave home." (Male, 19).

Lesbians and gay men generally suffer oppression and discrimination in society, and this is mirrored in the housing market, whether through total lack of employment protection, through harassment and violence, or simply through prejudice preventing access to resources. Furthermore, sexuality is often a direct cause of homelessness. Young lesbians and gay men who have been made homeless due to the hostile reaction of others, whether parents, landlords or employers, constitute a quite separate group of homeless people, with specific needs.

Research in this area is much needed, but what little documentation exists indicates the nature of the problem. A survey by the Gays and Housing Group in 1980-1981 showed that 4,000 people contacting London Gay Switchboard were seeking help with housing problems. Of those actually homeless, 36% reported their housing problem to be related to their sexuality.

"My mother got drunk - tried to beat me up, and my father asked me to leave." (Female, 20).

"They threw me out of the house and didn't speak to me for months. My mother said that she wished she had had a miscarriage whilst carrying me." (Male, 20).
The Gays and Housing Group findings are echoed by a research project undertaken in 1983 for the London Gay Teenage Group. Data was collected on a sample survey of nearly 500 young lesbians and gay men living in London. The survey results reflected the extreme difficulty of growing up in a heterosexist and hostile society, revealing the alarming statistic that nearly 1 in 5 (19%) of the survey population had attempted suicide because they were lesbian or gay. The cumulative effects of a negative self-image, problems at school, and overwhelming experience of isolation, intimidation and violence (60% had received verbal abuse, and 20% had been beaten up, because they were lesbian or gay), plus a lack of usual support networks and family rejection, had led to this situation.

"My parents were very shocked, called me a lot of unpleasant things, and had me put into care." (Female, 18).

"I was thrown out of home. Dad threatened me with a kitchen knife." (Male).

Directly related to the incidence of homelessness amongst young lesbians and gay men, the survey revealed that more than 1 in 10 (11%) of respondents had been thrown out of home because of their sexuality (14.5% of lesbians, and 9% of gay men). Yet it is a common experience of Central London advice agencies that many homeless lesbians and gay men do not wish to enter ordinary emergency or short stay accommodation because of the prejudice and violence they fear they will encounter there. There is, in fact, a high incidence of intimidation and violence directed at young lesbians and gay men in much of the emergency accommodation available for the young single homeless. This is sufficiently well known amongst young lesbians and gay men to discourage them from entering such accommodation, forcing them to seek other, less satisfactory, alternatives. The problem is often compounded by their lack of confidence in feeling able to discuss their housing situation with advice agencies. Their specific housing difficulties thus remain overwhelmingly hidden from society.

From the above-mentioned studies, and from additional case histories contributed by two agencies dealing with single homeless people in London, the following points emerge:

- Homelessness amongst young lesbians and gay men is often a direct consequence of the fact that they are gay, and is usually something against which they have no defence as they are unlikely to be old enough or affluent enough to acquire secure accommodation of their own.

- In nearly all the cases cited, homelessness was the only problem these young people had initially - whatever else some of those surveyed became involved with, such as petty crime, drink or drug dependency, or prostitution, was likely to have been a consequence of their homelessness. This is, of course, exacerbated by the difficulty of finding work or claiming supplementary benefit with no permanent address. The DHSS Board and Lodging Regulations forces young people to constantly move on, which can only increase these problems.

- The high incidence of violence in short stay hostels has been mentioned; but even where hostels or advice agencies are not overtly hostile, there is a tendencey to see homosexuality as a problem in itself, and to concentrate on this to the exclusion of other factors - such as homelessness! There is also a widespread reluctance amongst hostel workers to take on lesbians and gay men, because of the 'problems' this creates for their heterosexual clients.

"X left a large industrial town in the Midlands after being beaten up in the streets as a known lesbian. She had left a child in care which she said had been taken from her by the courts because she was an 'unfit' mother. Her experiences had made her very mistrustful of non-gay agencies, and she was eventually found bed and breakfast accommodation through a gay information service which in turn contacted an advisory service."(2)

The need for supportive emergency and short stay accommodation specifically for young lesbians and gay men is clearly demonstrated. Young lesbians and gay men themselves would prefer, in many cases, to be living with other gay people. So often they have 'escaped' to London from family/community harassment, or fear of harassment. Many young lesbians and gays in London are from small towns or rural communities - many come from Ireland. They see London as being more accepting and anonymous, and are drawn to its large gay community and the prospect of forming a friendship and support network here. Basically, they want to be able to live in peace.

Obviously, Stonewall can only meet part of the need of homeless lesbians and gay men in London; but it was never intended that Stonewall could be the answer to this problem. We are merely one resource, albeit a much-needed one; currently, Stonewall is the only project of its kind in the country. We can only ever be one of a range of options, another of which must be training of hostel workers and positive policies which fight the discrimination and violence in hostels, so that they can become viable alternatives for homeless young lesbians ang gay men.


Initially, it is intented that the project shall have 17 bedspaces in two houses in north Islington. Both houses are owned by Circle 33 Housing Association who will convert and maintain them but hand them over to Stonewall to manage.

House No 1

This property is situated close to public transport facilities, shops, post office, banks, sports centre and swimming baths. It is a four-storey property, roughly 230 square metres in area, and is due to be completed and ready for management in August 1986. This house is a nine-bed hostel with separate living space for men and women. There is a utility room with washing machine and dryer, communal telephone box, and two kitchen-diners. There is also a staff office and a separate sleep-over space.

House No 2

This house is situated a few streets away in north Islington, with similar access to the same facilities. It is a three-storey house which is being converted into four self-contained flats to house eight residents. The house is due to be completed in July 1986. It has a floor area of approximately 198 square metres and includes a one-bedroomed 'mobility' unit suitable for a disabled resident. This property will provide for a more independent lifestyle than the hostel; nevertheless, staff support will be provided by staff working from the other house and from the Stonewall office.

Stonewall Staff

The project employs two part-time workers but will eventually employ five hostel workers, who will be responsible for the overall management of the project, as well as for housing management duties. Support of both residents and ex-residents, and the giving of advice and information on welfare, housing and employment issues, will be an integral part of their work. Also vital is liaison with other agencies, both voluntary and statutory, in receiving referrals and arranging follow-on accommodation for the Stonewall residents. The unique nature of the project will require a high level of experience from the hostel workers.

Management Committee

The workers are accountable to a Management Committee made up of lesbians and gay men with expertise in such areas as homelessness amongst single people, housing association work, and education. The Management Committee also includes representatives from the Greater London Council and from Circle 33 Housing Association.



After three years of using short-life properties, Stonewall eventually acquired permanent funding from the GLC. Even when the application went before the GLC there was opposition from some individual officers who attempted to stop the Scheme being funded; they got a psychologist to write a report. The report stated:

- Young lesbians and gay men would be corrupted by the older lesbians and gay men;

- by allowing young people to mix with lesbians and gay men, their sexuality would be set at an early age;

- in any case, there was no need to put young lesbians and gay men together as there was accommodation available elsewhere.

To combat this Stonewall got another psychologist to write a report which repudiated the earlier report as having out-dated ideas.

The funding was granted but, because of the first report, certain regulations were imposed:

1. There was to be no sex on the premises. (If under-age sex occurred on the premises the workers would be criminally liable.)

2. No over-night guests were allowed.

3. There would have to be resident wardens.

Funding now comes from a variety of sources: the Housing Corporation, who divide the money between Circle 33 and Stonewall; Islington Borough and the London Boroughs, because the scheme is seen as cross-London.


Stonewall have a policy age range of 17 - 25 years, although in practice most of the tenants are aged 20 and below. Because many hostels are dominated by white young men, Stonewall have an equal opportunity policy: they target young lesbians and black and ethnic minority young lesbians and gay men. They aim for 50% lesbians or 50% black/ethnic minority young people in each hostel, believing that it is no use simply putting two lesbians in a hostel or two black young people. The equal opportunity policy also applies to the workers and general management. Although both houses are mixed, there is a commitment that the next house will be lesbian only. The issue of disabled access will also be taken on with the new houses - there is only one hostel with access and this does not have wheel chair access.

Stonewall does not take self referrals: the addresses of the hostels are secret and, in any case, the young lesbian or gay man who has been thrown out of home and who turns up in London needs a lot of support; Stonewall does not have resources for specialised counselling. Their staff are trained hostel managers. They do, however, help the tenants work out what they want to do whilst staying at the hostel and put the tenants in touch with appropriate groups.

Referrals are taken from anybody as long as the agency is pro-lesbian/gay. Links are closest with Soho, Alone in London and various youth groups: there used to be at least one lesbian and gay youth group in each London Borough; and when ILEA existed there was also a co-ordinator.


Stonewall have made it policy to visit the local police and tell them about the project; there will probably be times when the support of the police is needed.

There have been some problems with the heterosexist maintenance staff - when the builders were converting the houses they discovered what the scheme was about and told everyone. As a result the next-door-neighbours throw their dustbins over the garden calling out faggots; there is a youth centre nearby and gangs of youths hang about and shout at the tenants; and there is a mini-cab firm nearby which has a lot of male drivers who stare, etc.

It has been found that the lesbian tenants are more discreet than the gay men who are often having to be told not to 'camp it up' outside of the house. Another safety rule is that the tenants are advised not to let anyone in that they do not know, in case of trouble and in case they are the press. So far there have been threats from relations of tenants but these have not materialised into problems. Stonewall will only take 17 plus year olds because a parent can remove a child if they are under 17 years of age.

Links are being made with other agencies, for example, probation. The staff still need to find a sympathetic local doctor and dentist.

The aim is that the young people stay for six to nine months but in practice this is more like twelve to eighteen months. The problem is how to re-house the tenants. There are various schemes but these tend not to work very well because of the drastic shortage of housing in London. Islington provides two flats per year and, although Stonewall can nominate tenants for the local authority housing, the waiting lists are already full of young people wanting re-housing. There are short-life properties and housing co-ops. Stonewall are not convinced, however, that single bedroomed flats are what is needed for their tenants; they believe that cluster flats give their tenants better support.

(1) 'Women and Homelessness: An Analysis' A National Cyrenian Report, by Alison Warlow & Maria Spellacy (Leeds Alternative Publications), p.6.

(2) All quotes taken from two London Gay Teenage Group Publications, 'Something to Tell You' by Lorraine Trenchard & Hugh Warren (Trojan Press) pp.146-7, and 'Talking About Youth Work' (Trojan Press), pp12-13.

UP-DATE - 1992

Many things have happened since the above report was written in 1986. The following information is taken from a new Stonewall leaflet and brings the situation up-to-date. We decided to add this - rather than re-writing the entire paper - so that the process Stonewall have gone through can be made visible for others to learn from.

As well as houses 1 and 2 referred to above - house 2 is now women-only - Stonewall have a third house which provides six bedspaces in two self contained flats, one for men and one for women. In each house the residents have their own bedrooms but share kitchen, bathroom and lounge with other residents.

In the autumn of 1992, Stonewall are planning to take into management two new houses from New Islington and Hackney Housing Association. One of these houses will be for lesbians and gay men who are HIV or have AIDS and the other will be for black lesbians and gay men.

Stonewall regularly receive many more enquiries for accommodation from lesbians and gay men than they are able to house. They are therefore constantly developing and up-dating their referral and information service and are in the process of carrying out more research into the housing needs of lesbians and gay men.

Stonewall now take both self referrals and agency referrals and do not operate a waiting list. The vacancies are filled as soon as possible, in accordance with their Equal Opportunities Policy. Potential residents are interviewed by a worker and they are shown the hostel before a decision is made on whether the project is suitable for them.

The criteria for selection are largely based on housing need. Stonewall do not see the workers as providing a high level of support, but where this is appropriate for residents they would ensure that the residents were in contact with agencies who could provide it. Each resident, on moving into the hostel, is assigned a key worker. While living in the hostels, residents are expected to participate in the management of their homes and regular house meetings are held. The average length of stay is a year to eighteen months, during which time Stonewall endeavour to find the resident permanent, move-on accommodation in accordance with their nominations policy. At present, Stonewall have nominations to various London Boroughs, the H.O.M.E.S. scheme and a few Housing Associations.

Stonewall is currently funded by the London Boroughs Grant Scheme, the London Boroughs of Islington and Haringey, the Hostel Deficits Grant, and from the Department of Environment. Stonewall also receive charitable funding especially from CRISIS who part-fund their advice work; they are working on developing other sources of funding.

Five full-time and one part-time project workers are employed. Each worker has a specific area of responsibility over and above their hostel and project work. The workers operate as a non-hierarchical team and are employed by a voluntary Management Committee which is made up of lesbians and gay men with expertise in all areas of housing such as advice work, hostel management, finance, law, equal opportunities and administration or have experienced homelessness themselves.

Stonewall has an Equal Opportunities Policy and aims to offer an equal opportunity of access to all lesbians and gay men. They recognise that there is direct discrimination and there are indirect practises which have discriminatory effects. To combat this, Stonewall strives to have and to operate a clear equal opportunities policy and at the same time have procedures to implement, monitor and review all their policies and procedures.

The Equal Opportunities Policy applies to residents, workers and the Management Committee members alike.

Paper compiled by Jan Bridget based on Stonewall literature, 1985 and an interview with a Stonewall worker in 1986. Up-date from Stonewall literature, 1992.


The details of housing provision are currently largely at the discretion of local bodies, particularly councils and housing associations, rather than in the direct control of central government.

Inevitably, these organisations discriminate in various ways. One of the most important changes needed is the imposition of a duty not to discriminate. To be effective this would have to be followed up by
"Codes of Guidance" and so on, covering the implementation of such a duty.

Local authorities plead lack of resources in the face of many demands for increases in services. In the case of housing, there is a lot of justification for this - London alone has lost £770 million pounds in
capital in the last eight years. This should not be a reason for refusing to implement changes, but any campaign must support the demand for adequate investment.

This paper covers access to housing and concentrates on local authority duties and the rights of secure tenants in council and housing association homes.


This is covered by the Housing Act 1985 Part III, (the consolidated form of the Housing (Homeless Persons) Act 1977). This imposes duties on local authorities towards homeless people. Those in "priority need" must be rehoused; this covers people with dependents, those over retiring age, people with disabilities, young people "in danger of sexual or financial exploitation" and others "vulnerable" for special reasons. All others must be given aid and advice, but this usually consists of a list of local bed and breakfast hotels. There is clearly a lot of discretion left to councils in this list.

An important part of the Act states that those who are in "priority need" should be rehoused with those it is "reasonable" for them to live with.

a) The definition of a "household" (Sec 58) must be reconsidered, in terms of who you might live with. This would enable lesbians or gay men to be rehoused with their lovers rather than alone.

b) "Vulnerability" is undefined. There may be instances that specifically cover the experiences of lesbians and gay men, which should be included in any changes.

c) The Act states that you are not eligible for rehousing if you are "intentionally" homeless, and some councils take this to include people escaping harassment. (See notes on secure tenancies below). Clearly
this should be prevented in law.

d) Increasingly there are reports of people with AIDS and AIDS Related Complex being refused rehousing, although they are obviously "vulnerable." Local authorities must recognise their right to housing, as well as providing good support services. This should include rehousing with a lover where the person with AIDS wants that.

e) Many people are homeless because of the way the DHSS operates, for example, not making payments for essential furniture. This can operate against lesbians and gay men making claims when they are homeless. (1)


This covers the allocation of housing by major landlords, particularly councils, housing associations and co-ops. Surveys have shown that even where disadvantaged groups have equal access to amounts of housing, they often receive the poorer quality homes. Although this is already contrary to the law where black people are affected, the Race Relations Act needs to be tightened up and the law generally made stronger.

a) Again, this can be related to the definition of a "household".

b) A duty should be imposed on local authorities to ensure that people get housing that is adequate and appropriate to their need.

c) Many lesbians and gay men in housing have been discussing the issue of "special properties" being allocated to lesbians and gay men. This could create a community but might also result in a vulnerable ghetto. Ideally, we should have the choice, but the resources must be available before such a choice is possible.

Tenancies and Security

A secure tenant has rights defined in the Housing Act 1980, with some amendments in the Housing Act 1985.

a) Succession - a married partner has a right to succeed to a tenancy if the tenant dies, followed by blood relations. Heterosexual co-habitees have no righs in law but many local authorities recognise them.
Lesbians and gay men have no rights at all in this situation and the case law shows that, even after 20 years, a lesbian cannot take on the tenancy of her dead lover's council flat. (Similar rules apply in
assigning a tenancy, if you want to move and pass the tenancy onto someone else).

b) Where a relationship breaks down, local authorities take different views on rehousing either or both of the partners. (This is often related to whether there was any violence). This should be the same for
lesbians and gay men, instead of not recognising that they have relationships at all. However, we should define what a relationship is, in this context, before anyone else does.

c) The law currently gives little support to victims of any form of harassment, or help to landlords taking action. Relevant parts of the Race Relations Act 1976 have been unhelpful in the courts, where
harassers have usually been evicted (if at all) under the law relating to nuisance. The whole area needs radical overhaul and codification, to enable victims (if possible) to prosecute, and put a duty on landlords
to act effectively against harassers.

Other Areas

There are many other areas of concern for people interested in housing: local authorities must reconsider their funding policy, particularly in relation to "special needs" housing projects they do not run themselves. They must also consider the role of tenants and residents organisations
in representation (many have been very unhelpful in their attitude to people with AIDS, for example.) The law should also impose a duty on the Housing Corporation, which funds housing associations, not to
discriminate and monitor funded groups. The Rent Acts must also be tightened to restrict discrimination and harassment by private sector landlords.

All of these initiatives must be accompanied by appropriate publicity and backed up with the resources to make them possible.

* * * * * * * * * *


1. Fight to overturn the decisions and regulations of housing authorities that impose unequal tenancies on single or unmarried people.

2. Abolition of priority needs as defined by local authorities and abolition of "intentionally homeless" as defined in the Homeless Persons Act.

3. Lesbians and gays aged 16 - 21 to be defined as vulnerable.

4. Abolition of the Rates Act, the Right to Buy; call for more rate support.

5. Housing provisions for relationship breakdown, including lesbian and gay relationships.

6. The Housing Corporation to make it an absolute requirement of all housing associations to have positive action in respect of lesbians and gay men.

7. A quota of all housing stock to go to lesbians and gays.

8. Lesbians and gays to be represented in all areas of local authority housing activities.

9. Lesbians and gays to be defined not as single homeless, but their specific needs to be taken into account.

10. Special hostels to be made available for lesbians and gays and emergency housing needs for those who have lost housing through their sexuality.

11. Lesbians and gays of 60 + to be defined as vulnerable.

12. Demands for sheltered housing provision for older lesbians and gays.

13. Demand for safety of physical environment for older lesbians and gays.

14. Council tenants should have the right to see their files, the contents of which should not be disclosed to others, including the police.

15. The revocation of the board and lodging regulations.

16. People who have to leave their homes as a result of harassment from members of their households or neighbours should be classified as being in "priority need," not "intentionally homeless."

17. Council tenants who harass and are evicted as a result should be regarded as "intentionally homeless."

18. Harassment officers speaking the necessary community languages should be available 24 hours a day.

  1. A young lesbian in Leicester was being physically and mentally harrassed by her parents because of her sexuality. Lesbian Information Service assisted her to acquire a place in the Women's Aid Hostel and she was later re-housed by a housing association. She applied for a payment for essential furniture but was refused. This young lesbian was not only homeless but also penniless!



1. Lesbians and gays become homeless because of people's reactions to their sexuality:

        14.5% of lesbians and
         9.0% of gay men report being thrown out of home because of their sexuality and 36% of lesbians and gays report their homelessness is connected to their sexuality (source: Gays in Housing/Gay Switchboard survey 1981).

2. There is serious discrimination in access to private and public housing against lesbians and gays.

3. Women, and black lesbians and gays, suffer a double discriminaiton.

4. There is discrimination by supposedly 'caring agencies' - the charitable and voluntary organisations providing hostels and supported housing.

5. Even the accommodation which is available is often made undesirable by harassment - in council estates, in hostels ....


- Homelessness amongst young lesbians and gays is often a direct consequence of people's reactions to the fact they are gay, and is usually something against which they have no defence as they are unlikely to be old enough or affluent enough to acquire secure accommodation of their own.

- In nearly all cases reported in surveys, homelessness was the only problem such young people had initially. Whatever else some became involved with, such as petty crime, drink or drug dependency, or prostitution, was likely to have been a consequence of their homelessness.

- The problems of the homeless are exacerbated by the difficulty of finding work or claiming benefits with no permanent address. The recent attempt at DHSS Board and Lodging Regulations will, if successful, increase these problems.

- The high incidence of violence in short stay hostels towards lesbians and gays deters people from entering them. Even prostitution can become a safer option.

- Even advice agencies and hostels which are not overtly hostile tend to see homosexuality as a problem in itself, and fail to deal with the real problem of homelessness. There is a widespread reluctance among hostel workers to take in lesbians and gays because of the 'problems' this creates for their heterosexual clients.


Emergency options - today

The network (network of lesbians and gays who offer accommodation).

Hostels and Nightshelters.

Bed and breakfast.

Short term options - this month


Special needs housing.

Flatsharing and non-commercial lodging - your local switchboard.

Medium term options - this year

Council and housing association flats.

Housing Co-ops and short life groups.

Private rented housing.

Long term options - campaigning for change

Council lettings policies.

Housing associations.

Changing attitudes in hostels, special needs housing and advice agencies.

New lesbian and gay housing agencies - self help.


Local authority housing department:-

        - allocations or lettings officer
        - housing aid centre or housing advice centre
        - special needs housing officer (in urban areas)

Citizens Advice Bureaux & local voluntary housing advice centres:-

        - should know of local hostels and schemes for the homeless
        - often good for information on private rented housing, B & B

Co-ops and housing associations:-

        - Society for Co-operative Dwellings
        - Co-operative Development Unit
        - National Federation of Housing Associations
        - Housing Corporation

all publish directories of existing organisations and guidelines on setting up new ones

Local campaign groups:-

  CHAR - single homeless
  SHELTER - homeless
  NACRO - ex-offenders
  MIND - mentally ill

National agencies:-

        national offices of the above, plus
        Young Homelessness Group - at CHAR, for young people
        First Key - at SHELTER, for peole leaving care
        NAVH - the National Association for Voluntary Hostels

for general advice and information about local groups.

Lesbian and gay agencies:-

        Stonewall HA - housing association
        Lesbians and Gays in Hostels - training co-op to change attitudes in hostel workers, based at Piccadilly Advice Centre
        London Lesbian and Gay Switchboard

Can't find an address or phone number?

Use Thompsons, Yellow Pages or Directory Enquiries!



1. This report responds in detail to the reports to your meetings on 8th May 1984, (enclosure L) and 11th June 1984, (enclosure L) and has been prepared following consultation with representatives of 'Hackney Lesbian and Gay Action'.


2. The original report to the Policy and Resources Committee identified several areas where members of the lesbian and gay communities are suffering considerable discrimination, and it suggested that Hackney Council should be taking positive steps to ensure that such discrimination did not occur. A number of specific areas were identified, and these are looked at later in this report.

3. To assist members of this community, however, it is clear that it will be necessary to identify them, and it is therefore suggested that applicants should be asked to indicate whether they are lesbian or gay, at the same time as being informed of the Councils policy of no negative discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation, of the Council's commitment to personal confidentiality, of the other policies of the Council (if adopted) proposed in this report, and of proposals made by other service departments as a result of this initiative.

4. It is also suggested that this, on its own, would be insufficient to assist most lesbians and gays to seek the help of the Council with housing and other needs. There should, therefore, be a programme of training all 'front line' and 'service delivery' staff to understand and deal positively with the needs of lesbian and gay people, and a commitment to the production of information posters and leaflets detailing the Council's policies in this area. Publicity should include advice to lesbians and gays about who to go to in the Council if they feel or believe that they have suffered discrimination.

5. It is emphasized that until gays and lesbians are confident that positive responses will be forthcoming from the Council when they approach it for assistance, many of the initiatives proposed later in this report will be of little benefit, since many will not come forward to make use of them.

6. It is also necessary to identify whether two people are applying for 1-bedroom accommodation (if they are cohabiting with their partner) or if they are applying for separate bedrooms (i.e. sharing adults). This dilemma applies to all applicants for housing, and although the Housing Services' assumption has always been that couples of opposite sexes are cohabiting (unless they are blood relatives, or they have specifically indicated that they do not) it seems right that applicants should be asked to indicate whether or not they are cohabiting with the co-applicant. It is suggested that the two questions on the application form should therefore read:
        "Please indicate if you and/or your partner is lesbian or gay

    YES/NO. WHO? .........................................

        (Note at top of "Household Members" details:)

  "Please bracket together any members of your household who  
intend to cohabit."


7. HLGA, in their original (1983) submission, identified 5 main housing issues of concern to them. Following officers' discussions, the following list of matters has been considered, and will be dealt with one by one:-

        a) Young single homeless lesbian or gay people.
i) Long term solutions.
         ii) Short term solutions.
        b) Harassment.
        c) Need for suitable permanent accommodation.
        d) Joint tenancies and succession rights.
        e) Rehousing on relationship breakdown.


There is a general need for single homeless people to be accepted as in priority need of housing under the Housing (Homeless Persons) Act 1977, although this would put an intolerable strain on present resources. The collapse of the private rented sector and the rise in unemployment have greatly increased the difficulties facing the single homeless.

There is evidence that lesbians and gays are at greater risk of becoming homeless and face greater problems in finding accommodation. This is often caused by the inability of relations and friends to come to terms with the persons sexuality, and by the harassment of lesbians and gays to a point where they are unable to continue living where they have been. Lesbians and gays may well remain childless for life. They face prejudice and discrimination in finding housing and employment.

The Housing (Homeless Persons) Act 1977 states that a person in priority need can include a person who:-

        "Is vulnerable as a result of old age, mental illness or handicap or physical disability, or other special reason." (Sect 2(1)(C).

The Code of Guidance (2nd edition) to the Act further describes 'any other special reason' as including "(women) without children who are at risk of violent pursuit, or, if they return home, at risk of further violence, and for homeless young people who are at risk of sexual or financial exploitation."

Strict interpretation of these guidelines has meant that many people subjected to violence and/or harassment, including gay and lesbian people, have been excluded from consideration as 'in priority need,' quite apart from the anomaly concerning violence in the home. It is therefore suggested that Hackney should accept "any homeless single person who has, or is in danger of, suffering harassment and/or violence" as in priority need.

Many young lesbians and gays need emergency assistance in the form of a temporary 'refuge' from their present home, similar in principle to the need for 'womens aid refuges.' It is anticipated that a fair proportion of such people may be able to return to their home, so that 'move-on' accommodation would not be a major problem. Stonewall Housing Association is shortly to approach the Council with proposals to set up such emergency temporary accommodation, and it is suggested that at this stage the Council accepts the principle of the need for such accommodation.


HLGA submit that gays and lesbians are at significantly greater risk than other people to harassment by neighbours, landlords, and other people with whom they come into contact. In housing terms, the acceptance of people who are 'threatened with homelessness' by violence or harassment (see (a) above) will greatly assist them, but it is also likely to occur once they have been rehoused (though see (c) below). It is suggested that the position in which gays and lesbians find themselves is comparable to racial and ethnic minorities, and that the racial harassment procedure already operating in Council stock should also apply to lesbians and gays.


HLGA is concerned at the quality of accommodation traditionally offered to single people in Hackney. They argue that gays and lesbians living alone or in couples are almost certain to remain where they are first housed, and will not amass priority on housing need grounds (i.e. by having children) so are unlikely to be moved. Yet the Council's policy towards housing those in need is directly discriminatory towards those who must make permanent use of what they are offered. For example every attempt is made to house families on low floors, leaving high floors or 'walk-up blocks' for single or childless people. 'Low demand' or 'hard-to-let' properties are offered to flat-sharers, but most of this is in the knowledge that those people will probably not stay in these homes for longer than a few years, when many of them will qualify for the Council's 'prime property' as young families.

Further discrimination is likely to occur where a lesbian or gay person is black or a member of other ethnic minorities. The specific needs of such people may differ from other lesbian and gay people, and these should be considered. Similarly, lesbian or gay disabled people may also suffer the problems of harassment, often more serious if their mobility is limited.

Lesbian mothers may well have 'priority' in housing need, but are more vulnerable to harassment. The location of their eventual home is therefore more crucial, they are often more concerned about declaring their sexuality (because of the risk of Courts removing their custody of their children), and it will be important that they are rehoused in an area where they can gain mutual support from other lesbian and gay people.

For all these reasons it is suggested that if evidence of previous harassment or violence towards lesbian and/or gay people can be provided when an applicant refuses an offer of accommodation, that offer should not be 'counted' as a reasonable offer to that applicant.
The Council should also resolve to improve the provision of long term accommodation for single people, and for accommodation designed for co-operative or shared living and should encourage and support co-operative housing associations (such as the April Co-op) which are specifically set up to house single people.


HLGA have asked that the partners of a lesbian or gay relationship are granted joint tenancies automatically. Current practice ensures that all adults in a household be given joint tenancies, so this will happen as a matter of course.

The law is unclear as to whether the right to succession (S.30. Housing Act 1980) applies to non-married partners. Current practice, however, indicates that the right of succession is granted to the tenants' husband or wife, or the person who was living with the tenant as such, and another adult member of the tenants family who has lived with the tenant for at least twelve months before the tenants death.

It is suggested that this right of one succession should be extended to include a situation where people have lived together for at least twelve months but are not covered by present practice. This would then include non related couples or lesbian or gay partners living together. It is further suggested that where a lesbian or gay relationship has been identified (see under 'background' above, and recommendation (2)) then the 'twelve month' rule need not apply, since they would then be in a comparable position to a married couple.


The Allocation Working Group has recently considered the Council's policy towards the breakdown of relationships, either with or without violence, and their proposals are to be reported to Housing Services Committee shortly. In essence, they propose that both partners be rehoused, the partners deciding who would stay in the original home, and the other partner being prepared to accept 'hard-to-let' property elsewhere appropriate to his/her needs.

HLGA are anxious that the same principal is adopted for lesbian or gay relationships, (though allocating a hard-to-let flat would sometimes go against their proposals under 'Suitable Permanent Accommodation' (above)). It is suggested, however, that to guarantee rehousing of the dispossessed partner in 'better quality' accommodation would seriously affect the Council's ability to house other demands, but that the proposal not to count offers where violence or harassment has occurred will help to meet this problem.


8. This report looks mainly at the way in which the Council's housing policies affect the gay and lesbian community and does not take into account the effect of other policies or proposals on these communities. It is recommended, therefore, that the decisions of this Committee on this subject should be referred back to the Policy and Resources Committee so that they can be considered there before being built into a Council-wide strategy for gays and lesbians.


9. i) Women

The report relates mainly to lesbians and gays, and therefore is specific to the needs of some women. The problems of lesbian women, particularly as single parents, are considerable, and it is hoped that the proposals will be of benefit to them. The proposal to extend 'priority need' homelessness to include those in fear of violence or harassment is an important addition of the Council's provision for women and will encourage those people to seek help from the Council.

ii) Finance, Staffing, Decentralisation, Office Accommodation, T.V. Consultation.

The report includes certain recommendations which extend housing policy, and which may have financial and other implications. The Director of Finance advises that no commitment should be made until some assessment of the cost to the Council can be given. Future reports will be necessary in order to provide information on the cost of extensions to existing policies. It is suggested that if the principles contained in these recommendations are accepted, the implications should be reported in detail to a future meeting.









Although a lot of organisations nowadays monitor race and sex, most shy away from monitoring sexuality. It is argued that it is inappropriate to ask people to define themselves in this way, since many would be
insulted and/or would refuse to give the information. However, it is worth asking who would be insulted and who might refuse to categorise themselves, and why. It is likely that those who would be offended
might also be those who are prejudiced, thus they are affronted at the suggestion that they could be anything other than heterosexual and also at the thought that the organisation they are dealing with is giving support to the issue. Thus to argue against monitoring on these grounds is to subscribe to prejudice. It is also worth considering that perhaps it is those who have to ask the question who might be insulted, or embarrassed. If so, this attitude needs to be examined. Might there possibly be some prejudice amongst the workforce or even the managment if they think there is something to be ashamed of in being lesbian, and in supporting the issue?

The question of people refusing to give an answer is more complicated, since many lesbians might well not trust the organisations with the information. This is understandable given the amount of prejudice they know exists generally and the track record so far within housing organisations in dealing with lesbian issues. Many organisations do not even include lesbians in their equal opportunities statements, and those which do might well not mention them again within the detail of the policy, or might omit to mention them in very important sections, e.g. grievance procedures, or tenancy rights. Even those who have managed a reasonable policy (and these are very few indeed) do not usually publicise the information sufficiently. Moreover, most organisations do not have definite procedures as to how to deal with a complaint about anti-lesbian behaviour, and many workers would not recognise it (as with racial or sexual harassment, it is all too easily 'explained away').

This does not mean that it is useless to monitor. It simply means that most organisations have a lot of groundwork to do before it is practicable. Firstly, there needs to be a very firm commitment among
the workforce to challenging heterosexism. Awareness training and courses on challenging heterosexism should be insisted upon, and incidences of anti-lesbianism among the staff, consultants, contractors
and committee should be dealt with through firmly laid out procedures. At the same time the organisation needs to address itself to all the issues in their equal opportunties policy, to ensure that there are firm
policies to protect both staff and residents. These should be written down rather than 'taken as read;' it is not enough to assume that the issue will be dealt with under sexual harassment procedures, for
example, because it is not the same, and it could well mean that complaints are therefore not adequately dealt with, or disregarded. At this point the information should be well publicised so that applicants
for jobs and for housing receive clear statements about the policies. In addition, all aspects of the policies should be explained verbally to applicants for housing and to new workers as part of their induction.

Once all this has been established, it should be possible to start monitoring. It will probably take longer to achieve this in an impersonal organisation such as a large housing association than in a small hostel where the workers can concentrate more intensively on creating the right atmosphere.

So what would be the point in monitoring, once all the above work has been done? Won't lesbians be getting a fair deal at this stage? Perhaps, but perhaps not. Exactly the same arguments could be made
about monitoring race and sex, but it is now generally accepted that it is necessary to check on progress. Moreover, the results of such monitoring have often been predictable - black people and women have
been found to be at a disadvantage. The question of sexuality should be dealt with in a similar way if the issue is to be taken seriously. To argue otherwise is to suggest that it doesn't matter as much (which
could stem from the assumption that there is no discrimination against lesbians, or that, although the discrimination is acknowledged, it is considered unimportant, or even justified).

Working out what number to go by is a little more difficult, but not impossible. About 1 in 10 women are lesbian. This doesn't necessarily mean that in a workforce of 20 the numbers are correct if there are two
lesbian workers, or that in a housing scheme with 10 bedspaces, there is a fair balance if one bedspace is allotted to a lesbian. Factors such as isolation, and discrimination against minorities, have to be taken
into account and in these situations it is sometimes necessary to think about targeting towards a higher proportion in order to recify this. For many schemes or workforces it might mean asking the question 'why aren't there any lesbians here at all?' and for others, challenging the tokenism of thinking that there isn't a problem if there is only one lesbian worker or resident among them. And it always has to be borne in mind that getting the numbers right isn't the whole answer; it is merely part of a package of measures which aim to combat discrimination and achieve equality. Without the other measures, mentioned above and in the proposed equal opportunities policy, it is a waste of time.

Methods of Monitoring

Many organisations choose to monitor anonymously, i.e. by asking applicants to complete a form which is separated from their job/housing application and is used for statistical purposes only. The argument is
that the information supplied should not affect the application since it is illegal to give unfair advantage on the grounds of race, or sex, or any other ground - the criterion has to be housing need in the one case,
and suitablity for the job in the other. The disadvantage of this is that if a group is subsequently proved to be under-represented this system cannot be used to redress the imbalance. If monitoring informa-
tion was contained within an application form, it would be straightforward to choose someone from an under-represented group if all other factors were equal. Furthermore, as far as monitoring sexuality is
concerned, it would also help in identifying applicants who expressed anti-lesbian views, and who are thus breaching the policy of the organisation. Therefore it is recommended that monitoring information
should not be separated from the rest of the application form until after selection procedures are completed. At this point it should be removed so as not to keep such information on personal files.


Have you ever been thrown out of home because you are a lesbian or gay, or you and your lover refused a flat? Have you been hassled by your neighbours, refused a mortgage or turned away by the council? These housing problems face most lesbians and gay men at some time.

The government is introducing a Bill which will make major changes in housing. It will become law in the summer.

Will the new laws make it easier to get a home, keep it secure from other people, or allow you to move on if you need to? The following outlines the major changes, and tells you what you need to do to protect
your home.


Most people don't know what sort of tenancy they have. If you don't know, find out. Get independent advice, and don't accept any changes in your agreement till you have done so.

What is Protected Tenancy?

The law is complicated, but you are probably a protected tenant if:

* you have an agreement (written or verbal) with the landlord that you can live in your home

* and you pay rent

* and your landlord does not provide meals or personal services (such as laundry or cleaning your room)

* and your landlord does not live in the same house

* and your landlord has no right to make you share all your home with anyone else.

You are a protected tenant if you have a registered 'fair rent', or a court has declared you are one. You are probably not protected if, for example, you have a 'winter' let, a shorthold tenancy or a 'company'
let. Even if you are not fully protected, you do have some rights. Get advice to find out exactly what your position is.

If you have a protected tenancy you will keep most of your present rights. But the new law may make it harder for you to keep your home if your lover or flatmate dies, if you are not 'joint tenants' and you have
been living together for less than five years.

If you have not got a protected tenancy, or if you move, you will only be able to get an 'assured' tenancy. This means you will have to negotiate your rent and rights with your landlord, and make a new
agreement at fixed intervals. You will not be able to register a 'fair rent,' so you will probably pay much more. It is easier for the landlord to evict you with an assured tenancy.

If you share accommodation with your landlord you don't have many rights at the moment. Get advice on your situation, as you will probably be badly affected under the new law.

There will be changes to the law about harassment by landlords. At the moment you must prove your landlord intends to make you move out if you want to take legal action. In future if your landlord acts in a way he knows will make you move, you may be able to sue him. These changes will not help you if the landlord is hassling you because you are lesbian or gay. Nor will they stop harassment by your neighbours.

IF YOU ARE A PRIVATE TENANT you should find out the terms of your tenancy immediately. If you do not want to ask your landlord, ask an idependent agency for advice. THIS IS YOUR LAST CHANCE TO GET A PROTECTED TENANCY, as it will be impossible when the Housing Bill becomes law in June or July 1988.


If you live in a council home, several things could happen to you.

* The tenants on your estate might be asked if you would like a private company, building society or housing association to buy your homes. You may be able to vote on this, but more than half of all the tenants must actively vote 'no' to stop the sale. If you don't vote, it will be assumed you will be in favour. You will probably become an 'assured' tenant immediately after the sale, and your rent may go up.

* You could decide to stay with the council. The council will probably be forced to increase your rent. You will keep the rights you have now, as a secure tenant. Some councils acknowledge lesbians and gay men, for instance, by allowing you to take on the tenancy if your lover dies, or having a joint tenancy, or giving you a transfer if your neighbours harass you. You should find out what rights you have at the moment, and how they might be affected if the council loses a lot of its housing.

* Tenants on your estate might choose to form a co-op to own or manage the housing themselves. This can be done in a variety of ways.

* Your home could be taken over by a Housing Action Trust, a new sort of government quango which will develop the estate and sell it again. Your rents will go up, and when your home is sold again you are likely to become an 'assured' tenant. If you are in the area of a Housing Action Trust, you will not be able to stop your home being taken over. You should make sure the people running the Trust know your views, as they are obliged to consult local people about their work.

IF YOU ARE A COUNCIL TENANT get in touch with your Tenants' Association and find out what your neighbours are planning. Look out for council publicity, and contact your Estate Office to find out what is happening. Check out the rights you have at the moment, and get a joint tenancy with the people you live with if you can.


Changes in the rules, coming in this month, mean that it will be harder to claim all the money for a higher rent, and means about a million people will not be able to claim it at all. Don't forget that you can
claim Housing Benefit even if you are living with your lover.


People who are housing association tenants may find rent increases come in more quickly. If you move, you will probably be an 'assured' tenant, and pay even more rent. Again, it will be harder to keep your home if your lover or flatmate dies. You will not have the right to change your landlord.


If you own your home, you will continue to get tax relief on your mortgage. But grants for improvements will be means tested in future. Nothing in the Bill will stop building societies asking unmarried people
for blood tests before approving a mortgage.


If you already live in a co-op, you may not be directly affected by the new Bill. If you live in a management co-op in council housing at the moment, and your homes are sold, the co-op may be dissolved.

You may want to start a co-op with other lesbians or gay men. This may be possible with the help of a housing association or the council, but many co-ops are based in 'short-life' housing which is not in very good condition. Co-ops can provide a good chance to gain control over your housing, but they are also a lot of work if they are to succeed. If you want to know more about co-ops, talk to an advice agency, your council, or any other co-ops in your area.

THE BILL SAYS VERY LITTLE ABOUT HOMELESS PEOPLE. None of the new landlords will be obliged to house you if you are homeless. Councils will be unlikely to be able to help you. You may be in a difficult position, for example, because your parents threw you out. If the council considers you are 'vulnerable' you have a right to housing, but councils are losing houses to private owners, while having little money to replace them, so there is less council housing to go round. Even the run-down property (sometimes called 'hard-to-let'), which many lesbians rely on, will be much harder to get hold of. If you are homeless, and you cannot afford to pay a high market rent as an 'assured' tenant, it is unlikely the Bill will do much to get you housing.

The Housing Bill has wide reaching implications. But the Housing Bill isn't the only piece of major legislation facing local government. The Poll Tax is a regressive tax which will hit the poor badly and prove particularly costly for single people sharing their home. And, as well as posing a threat to equal opportunities. The Local Government Act also tries to stop local authorities providing information on politically controversial issues. (To say nothing of Clause 28). The prevailing political climate does not bode well, particularly for lesbians and gay men who will not only feel the direct impact of the various pieces of legislation but also face the additional pressures from the harassment and discrimination which are implicit in the government's proposals.

However, it is important that people know about the legislation and act to protect their interests. If you want to know more about your rights contact a Citizens Advice Bureau, advice agencies or the council. If
you want to tell the government your views write to DoE, 2 Marsham St., London SW1. If you want to know more about the Bill contact your local tenants group or the council or, if you are in London, the Association of London Authorities or the London Housing Unit.

* * * * * * * * * *

Since the leaflet was produced, the Local Government Bill (and the infamous Clause 28) have received their Royal Assent and have become law. There was also the Budget: one of the implications of which is
that groups of people will be unable to get tax relief from joint mortgages. (This is one way that groups of people could buy a house).

The Social Security Act is now in force. One aspect of this Act will particularly affect young lesbians. For example, if you are single, under 25 and living in independent accommodation you will be paid a
reduced rate of benefit, as if you were living at home with your parents. In addition, this month sees the extension of the waiting time from 13 weeks to 26 weeks to claim unemployment benefit, if you leave
employment (on a voluntary basis or are fairly dismissed). The implications for lesbians in particular are that it will be more difficult - economically - to leave the parental home if you are being harassed by
your parents; and if you are suffering harassment at work because of your sexuality, it will be mean that quitting your job will be almost



This paper has grown out of a previous review of Sandra Anlin's 'Out but not Down,' a development of my understanding of lesbian oppression and a growing frustration that most/all research about lesbians conducted by feminists fails to address the experiences of non-feminist lesbians. If we continue to use a feminist analysis, with its inevitable heterosexual focus, to understand lesbian experience then we are leaving out those lesbians who are most in need of support.

In order to show how using a feminist framework alone for research into lesbian issues is inappropriate, I will examine several aspects of a feminist research project into the housing needs of lesbians. "Out but not Down," examines the experiences of the lesbian residents, workers and committee members of Homeless Action, which is a women's housing project, founded in London in 1977. First, however, a general discussion about feminism in relation to non-feminist lesbians.


Lesbianism v Feminist-Lesbianism

Lesbians come in different shapes, sizes, colours, ethnicities, classes, ages, cultural backgrounds, with and without disabilities. There are, however, basically two 'groups' of lesbians. The first group, non-feminist lesbians, feel that they had no choice in becoming lesbian. This group can be sub-divided into those lesbians who knew during their adolescence that they were sexually attracted to other women, and those who will have been unaware of their lesbianism until they fell madly in love with another woman later in life; heterosexual sex will have done nothing for them.

The second group (feminist-lesbians), who have only existed since the second wave of the women's liberation movement, believe that they choose to become lesbian. Lillian Faderman describes the differences between lesbians and feminist-lesbians in her essay "The 'New Gay' Lesbians," Journal of Homosexuality, Vol 10(3/4), Winter 1984: "While lesbian-feminism is not always dissociated from homosexual genital activity, it is seen as having an altruistic social purpose that transcends the personal and sexual."

Since the early 1970's more and more women have begun to identify as feminist-lesbians. Indeed, when Shere Hite conducted her research for "Women and Love, the New Hite Report, A Cultural Revolution in Progress," 1988, 54% of the lesbians who responded (11% of the 4,500 women who took part said they were lesbian, a further 7% identified as bisexual) said that "being gay for them is biological, that they 'always knew,'" 46% said that it was a choice.

Redefinition of Lesbianism

In "Women-Identified-Women," 1984, Rose Weitz traces what she calls "From Accommodation to Rebellion: The Politicization of Lesbianism," by examining the first major U.S. lesbian periodical, "The Ladder," which existed from the mid 1950's to the early 1970's. Weitz tells us that the magazine changed from one which concentrated on lesbian issues to a women's liberation magazine. By the time the magazine ceased publication in the early 1970's:

"The focus of The Ladder shifted from homophile to women's liberation, as womanhood became a more salient identity than homosexuality. Numerous features appeared during this period that described the oppressed position of women in society and did not discuss lesbians at all - implicitly stressing solidarity among women regardless of sexual preference. Issues published during The Ladder's last year contained more feminist, nonlesbian news items than lesbian, nonfeminist items."

Two Classes of Lesbians

Feminism has thus created two 'classes' of lesbians: feminist-lesbians and non-feminist lesbians. As feminism is a middle class movement, feminist-lesbians are predominantly privileged, middle class, lesbians who live in, or have access to, lesbian/women's 'communities,' feminist-lesbian/women's activities and support. A few working class women will have become 'aware' of their lesbianism through feminism, especially from their involvement with feminist organisations like women's aid and rape crisis. However, most feminist-lesbians became lesbian through their involvement with the women's liberation movement and latterly through the institutionalisation of feminism in academia. Non-feminist lesbians are predominantly working class and experience isolation from society in general as well as from feminist-lesbian communities.

Feminist-lesbians scorn non feminist-lesbians and regard them as inferior beings, using phrases like "straight lesbian" or "bar dyke" to put them down. The drunken lesbian who gets into fights or who tries to kill herself is an embarrassment to the feminist-lesbian and runs contrary to their idealised re-definition of lesbianism.

Internalised Homophobia

Everyone is taught to hate homosexuality. There is a big difference, however, between lesbians, especially those who knew about their lesbianism in their adolescence, and feminist-lesbians. Lesbians who are aware of their sexuality during their adolescence internalise the negative messages society teaches about homosexuality, the results of which are usually: very low self-esteem, alcohol and drug misuse, and depression, parasuicide and suicide. Those non-feminist lesbians who become aware of their lesbianism later in life will not have internalised fear and guilt; they may have sufferered from depression but they would have been unaware of the reasons for their depression, they probably didn't feel 'whole' persons or felt that something was missing. Feminist-lesbians, whilst being homophobic like the rest of society, do not internalise homophobia in the same way, as Faderman states:

"Therefore, within the context of the [feminist] movement, homosexuality is not the lonely or selfish path it is for those who have internalized the social attitudes about illicit sexuality. Rather it is the only noble and decent choice a woman concerned with the social position of women could make."

Coming-Out Process

The coming-out process for non-feminist lesbians and feminist-lesbians is very different. Coming out is a particularly difficult and painful process for those lesbians who knew about their sexuality during their adolescence: some may come out when they are young, others try and suppress their lesbianism by having relationships with men, getting married and/or having children and come out when they are older, (some never come out). These experiences are fraught with difficulties, primarily because of the internalised self-hate and the lack of support. Because of her youth: being dependent on homophobic parents or people in authority, lower self-esteem and greater pressure to conform to heterosexuality, the young lesbian is much more vulnerable (parasuicide rates are particularly high for young women). Coming out for older women who fall in love with another woman but have not internalised fear and guilt, whilst being difficult and problematic (especially if divorce and children are involved) is not as traumatic. What all of these lesbians usually have in common is their isolation from a supportive environment and network of other lesbians, lack of positive information and positive role models.

Feminist-lesbians, on the other hand, usually come out within the supportive network of other feminist-lesbians. As Lilian Faderman says:

"Although the lesbian-feminist would know about the general intolerance towards homosexuality, the political group with which she is ideologically associated (either through her radical feminist reading or through actual social contact) would insulate and distance her from the prevailing homophobia. Lesbian-feminist autobiographies often depict a progression from heterosexuality, to radical feminism, and finally lesbianism with little of the internalization of the guilt, shame, and fear that society generally imposes on male homosexuals."


Feminists have pointed out that invisibility has traditionally been used to undermine lesbianism. For example, the Lesbian History Group tell us in their introduction to "Not a Passing Phase, Reclaiming Lesbians in History 1840-1985," 1989:

"Lesbians have been deprived of virtually all knowledge of our past. This is deliberate since it keeps us invisible, isolated and powerless...For instance, during an attempt to criminalise lesbian acts in Britain in 1921 several MPs argued that it was better to remain silent about the subject than to publicise the fact that lesbianism existed by passing a law against it."

Yet feminist-lesbians make the history of working class lesbians invisible, as Ruthan Robson states in her article "Looking for Lesbian Legal Theory, A Surprising Journey," (Sinister Wisdom , 42, 1990/91):

"Although it is popular to assert that lesbians as a category did not exist before the 19th Century 'rise of the sexologists,' we hide history in our selection of what qualifies as 'lesbian.' If we choose lesbian legal history as applicable to upperclass school mistresses, we might conclude that lesbianism was legally unimaginable; if we choose lesbian legal history as encompassing prostitutes, vagrants, thieves and the criminally insane,' then the legal history of lesbianism is not a portrait of immunity."

Feminism does not give a high priority or high profile to lesbians. Note, for example, where the energy of most feminist-lesbians is placed, in women's issues such as abortion, rape crisis, women's aid, violence against women, etc.

Feminist-lesbians hide behind the term 'women.' Most feminist-lesbians identify themselves and other lesbians as women rather than lesbians. Their events and magazines are 'women's' events, 'women's' magazines, 'women's' music festivals. Thus a disco, which is organised by feminist-lesbians and which is attended by 99% lesbians, is not called a lesbian disco but a 'women's' disco. This not only makes lesbianism invisible but it also means that these events are not accessible to most non-feminist and isolated lesbians who are not 'in the know.'

It is feminist-lesbians who conduct research about lesbianism and who choose what aspects of lesbianism to examine, what to ignore, and who to ask. They ignore and play down the experiences of non-feminist lesbians.


What little research there is about lesbianism in Britain is from a feminist viewpoint. There has been slightly more research in the U.S.A., but again it has been conducted from a feminist perspective and primarily amongst privileged lesbians; virtually every research project we have uncovered has been conducted in this way. In her paper "Depression Among Lesbians: An Invisible and Unresearched Phenomenon," 1990, Esther D. Rothblum says:

"There has been little research on lesbians who are not white, not young adults, and not middle class. Problems experienced by lesbians who are members of ethnic minority groups, adolescents, older women, or women in prison need to be examined more closely. The double burden of being a lesbian in this society in addition to differing demographically from the lesbian community may increase rates of depression."

There can be no question that those lesbians who differ demographically (i.e. non-feminist lesbians, who are predominantly multi-oppressed) do suffer increased rates of depression.


By emphasising only our femaleness, feminism plays down (and in fact oppresses) other parts of our identity, since it is presumed we are all the same. For me, as a lesbian woman who is working class, there are three parts to my identity: my lesbianism, my femaleness and my class. In order to fully understand the uniqueness of my oppression (and needs) as a working class lesbian woman, I need to know what the effects of heterosexism/homophobia, classism and sexism have on me.

Lesbians already experience a two-fold oppression as female homosexuals. However, the experience of those lesbians who are further oppressed, i.e. working class, black, minority ethnic, disabled, old and young, are compounded by their extra oppression/s. This means:
* greater isolation, less support and less access to positive information and role models;

* facing the extra oppressions of classism, racism, ethnicism, ableism, ageism or adultism; and

* internalisation of the negative images society portrays of working class people, black people, minority ethnic people, disabled people, old people and young people.

The results of this are that multi-oppressed lesbians are more invisible and, with some cultural differences, will generally have lower self-esteem; are more likely to be depressed and suicidal and be alcohol and/or drug misusers; have greater health problems; be more dependent on homophobic (and classist, racist, ethnicist, ableist, ageist and adultist) services; take less care of themselves; experience greater physical and sexual abuse; be less educated; have poorer access to employment; earn less money; and be in greater need of supportive housing.


There is one group of lesbians whom feminist-lesbians acknowledge experience discrimination: those who are mothers. There has been more research about the needs of lesbians who are mothers than any other issue concerning lesbians, yet four-fifths of lesbians do not have children.

One reason for this is because the oppression of homosexuals is recognised primarily in terms of legal inequalities - hence gay men are regarded as more oppressed than lesbians because of the Age of Consent. It is only lesbians who are mothers who appear to be subject to the law in relation to custody of children in divorce cases.

When a woman who is a mother becomes a lesbian she loses many of the privileges being heterosexual gave her. It is often those people who have more to lose that seem to be more oppressed.


The official purpose of Anlin's research, as agreed with Homeless Action, was to "ascertain the housing needs of lesbians and how these could be tied in with Homeless Action's present and future housing provision." Anlin's personal objectives were that "the research would challenge the stereotyped lesbian image, which she describes as "a woman who is lonely, isolated, 'sick' and desperately unhappy!" and "show that lesbians have diverse housing needs and diverse experiences to do with race, class, age, being mothers or childless, health and disability."

I suggest that Anlin has failed to fulfill any of these objectives because she has used a feminist framework for her research. By wanting to challenge the 'stereotyped' image of the lesbian as "a woman who is lonely, isolated, 'sick' and desperately unhappy" Anlin discriminates against those very lesbians whom she wanted to show "have diverse housing needs and diverse experiences to do with race, class, age, being mothers or childless, health and disability."


Of the 28 lesbians who took part in the survey, 18 were residents, eight workers and two management committee members. The youngest participant was 19, the oldest 43; 16 were in the age group 19-29; seven between the ages of 30 and 39, while five were over forty. Four of the participants were black. The survey also included one Jewish, one Greek Cypriot, one Russian and three Irish lesbians. Half of the sample considered themselves to be working class, nine middle class, two "as belonging to the new class of the unemployed, two of working class origin, and one was not sure."

In the same way that feminism plays down the differences between women, so Anlin makes the fundamental mistake of including the management committee members and workers in the survey with the residents but rarely differentiates between them when there are clear differences, not least in their housing situation. Neither does Anlin identify who are feminist-lesbians and who are non-feminist lesbians. I would suggest, however, that the residents would consist primarily of non-feminist, isolated, and multi-oppressed lesbians who would probably not be mothers. The workers and committee members are more likely to be feminist-lesbians who are middle class, white and able-bodied. Certainly, some of the findings suggest this.

Feelings about Lesbianism

Of the participants, 18 said they had not always felt positive about their lesbianism, eight had (might these be the workers or management committee members who maybe 'chose' their lesbianism?) and two did not respond. The following are some of the comments made:

"I came out at 14 and put up with a lot of shit."

"I had problems with my family when I first came out."

"I felt guilty when I was young because I am a Catholic, but now I
know other lesbians who are Catholics."

"I felt bad because of what my culture expected from me."

"Before I came out I felt bad, when I did, I wished I'd done it before."

Residents' position?

Homeless Action state:

"We house women between the ages of 18 and 60 who are homeless or inadequately housed and on a low income. We do not house men or children. We especially welcome women who are ex-offenders, long-term homeless and/or hostel dwellers, ex-mental hospital patients, drug or alcohol abusers (using or not), or from other backgrounds, [who] find it particularly difficult to find somewhere decent to live."

It is clear, from this criteria, that the residents of Homeless Action are in a vulnerable and powerless position to that of the workers/committee members. Indeed a response by one of the residents, in relation to a question about sharing, further emphasises this point: "It would be nice to choose who we live with, but how can we if we are homeless?"

Anlin acknowledges the powerless position of the residents compared to the workers and states that she is "not trying to suggest that the unequal power balance between workers and residents be redressed in order that the residents have more power. Homeless Action has a responsibility to run the organisation efficiently and effectively and, ultimately, it is the workers and management committee that are responsible for this and not the residents."

Privileged Position of Workers and Committee Members

Not only are the workers and management committee members in a different housing situation, they are also in a different financial situation: The distinction between workers/management members and residents is made clear when examining the income levels of the participants: half were receiving state benefits and of the half who were in paid employment, the staff and committee members had a higher income than the residents (eight received over £12,000 whilst the remaining six were in a low income bracket).

We Are All Women

Instead of examining the real housing issues facing lesbians, Anlin rigidly sticks to her feminist agenda which places lesbians with 'women.' Take, for example, the following comment: "Single women who choose to live without men could have it as bad as lesbians." Add to this the revealing questions: "Do you think that single women generally have difficulty getting housing?" "Does it improve the situation if a woman can be dependent on a man for housing?" and "Have you ever been dependent on a man for housing?" and we are left with the impression that lesbians do not (in general) experience greater discrimination than homeless, heterosexual, single women. Such enquiries beg the question: Why did Anlin set out to do the research in the first place? A focus on lesbians needs to come from concern about our particular difficulties, not from a position which believes we are no different from heterosexual women.

Differences between Lesbians and Heterosexual Women

In order to identify the specific housing needs of lesbians Anlin should have examined the differences between lesbians and heterosexual women rather than the similarities. The following are just a few examples:

* Heterosexual women do not experience heterosexism and homophobia.

* Lesbians internalise both the negative images of being female as well as the stigmatised image of homosexuality. Heterosexual women do not share the agony of coming out about their sexuality. As Shere Hite comments: "The period before coming out is often filled with agony, inner doubts, and a feeling of loneliness, caused by trying to make oneself 'fit in' to heterosexual 'norms.'"

* In a U.S. survey about the health needs of lesbians, Bradford and Ryan note "It is intuitively appealing to think that lesbians as a group could be expected to report higher rates of distress than other women, matched demographically, and therefore to make greater use of mental health services, if for no other reason than the psychological stress of personally coming-out and the social stress of experienced or anticipated discrimination."

* Lesbians experience greater stress than heterosexual women: in the Bradford and Ryan study, 56% of the lesbians sometimes or often had been too worried or nervous to do necessary things; in a similar study only 7% of females in the general population reported that problems 'completely' prevented them from performing routine daily tasks.

* More than half of the lesbians of the same study reported money problems worried them the most compared to only 10% of the general female population. Concerns about problems related to jobs and school were twice as high among lesbians than heterosexual women. The authors note:

"The economic situation of most lesbians differs profoundly from that of heterosexual women, who are often economically dependent upon higher-paid men. Single lesbians have to be concerned about financial needs, for most are utterly dependent upon what they earn in order to support themselves. Even paired lesbians typically have much less income than could be earned by a heterosexual couple who were comparably educated and employed. In addition, lesbians usually feel a vulnerability about their employment that is unknown to other women - fear that they will be revealed as lesbians and suffer loss of employment as a result."

* More lesbians have drinking problems than heterosexual women. It is estimated that a third of lesbians are alcoholic. In Saghir and Robins research project of 1982, 35% of the lesbians who took part revealed a history of drinking which was considered excessive or alcoholic compared with only 5% of the heterosexual women.

* More lesbians attempt suicide than heterosexual women. In Bell and Weinberg's study of 1978, 42% of the lesbian participants had attempted suicide compared to 26% of the heterosexual women.

* Lesbians receive less support from their families (parents) than do heterosexual women. The Bradford and Ryan study revealed that lesbians experience at least twice as high a rate of problems at home.

* Breaking up is harder for lesbian couples, as Shere Hite states: "Since there is no institutionalized public acknowledgement of gay relationships, i.e. 'marriage,' breaking up is more of an emotional test for gay women, more of an emotional ordeal; it brings up all the questioning about the possibility of permanent or lasting relationships - and in many cases, the pain must be hidden, endured alone."

* Lesbians are more likely to be homeless than heterosexual women; lesbians can be - and sometimes are - thrown out of the parental home on coming out. Heterosexual women do not get thrown out because they are heterosexual. Some women may be thrown out for getting pregnant but even then, there are many projects which support unmarried mothers.

* Lesbians are likely to experience greater harassment in their housing situations than heterosexual women.

* The Bradford and Ryan study revealed that lesbians who were multi-oppressed and isolated experienced greater depression, suicide, alcohol and drug misuse, had poorer health, were more likely to become pregnant, were more likely to have abortions, were unlikely to use counsellors.


By ignoring the differences between non-feminist lesbians and feminist-lesbians, and lesbians who are multi-oppressed, and by insisting that we identify as women first and foremost, feminist-lesbians find it difficult to identify anti-lesbianism when it occurs, especially when the perpetratators are heterosexual women. Anlin states:

"What can be more difficult, however, is establishing whether oppressive behaviour towards lesbians is anti-lesbianism or oppressive for other reasons: is a woman being violent because she is anti-lesbian or because she is a violent woman? Is a person's unfriendliness to be interpreted as deliberate anti-lesbianism, heterosexist paranoia of being touched by a lesbian because of ignorance and fears about catching AIDS, or just unfriendliness?"

It is crucial to be able to identify anti-lesbianism in order to challenge it. This is especially relevant when lesbians are involved with women's projects and in particular when they are in the vulnerable position of being residents in women's hostels.


Anlin had been lesbian for six years when she conducted the research; she is a mother assessing the needs of lesbians who are not mothers. Homeless Action house single women, therefore any resident who is a mother is likely to be separated from her children and probably in great pain (in fact, only one of the participants was a mother and her children were grown up). Women with children, in any event, are a priority on local authority housing lists and are less likely to be homeless for any length of time. The ages of the participants range from 19 to 42. The residents are homeless not through choice but because of oppression. It is therefore inappropriate and insulting for Anlin to ask: "Do you see your ideas and needs changing as you get older, have children, maybe your lifestyle changes, or whatever? Will home always be just a place to sleep or a place to be secure where you can 'settle down?"

Lesbians are always being asked when they are going to get married, settle down and have a family! This question implies that lesbianism is an immature state, that the participants need to grow up, have children (get married - change their lifestyle?), settle down, and stop considering home as merely somewhere to sleep! The reality for multi-oppressed lesbians is that 'somewhere to sleep' is all they ever get.


The study also perpetuates lesbian invisibility. Anlin concludes: "We do not know how many lesbians exist in the UK." Of course, we cannot give a precise figure but it is generally accepted that at least 10% of the population are homosexual. To say at least 10% makes us visible - to say we don't know how many lesbians there are makes us invisible.

Anlin also says that a research project cannot obtain statistics of how many lesbians need housing. Ten percent of females are lesbian; everyone needs housing; lesbians have particular housing needs because of discrimination. It is common knowledge that many lesbians move to London and other major cities because of the facilities there for lesbians and for anonymity. It is likely, therefore, that more than 10% of the female population in London will be lesbian.



Feminism is about female oppression, in particular heterosexual female oppression. Until feminists accept and understand that our lesbianism is just as important a part of our identity as our femaleness they will continue to ignore those lesbians who are most in need of support; they will be unable to identify anti-lesbianism; and they will continue to oppress non-feminist lesbians in their projects.

Not all lesbians are feminists. Many, maybe half or more, are isolated both from society in general and from feminist-lesbian 'communities.' Not that I am suggesting that feminism is the answer. On the contrary, feminism bears little relevance to non-feminist lesbians, especially those lesbians who knew about their sexuality during their youth.

When Rose Weitz describes the contents of "The Ladder" in the early days she is describing the experiences of non-feminist lesbians NOW:

"More than half of the stories from 1956 through 1964 that described lesbian life and relationships did so pessimistically, focusing on isolation, suicide, blackmail, rejection by family and friends, or the loss of lovers..."


If we want to understand the needs of all lesbians, not just feminist-lesbians, then we have a lot of work to do. We can turn to gay research for example: whilst feminism has progressed our understanding of sexism and its effects on females, the homophile movement (made up primarily of gay men) has developed our understanding of homophobia and heterosexism. The application of feminism to lesbian experience has set us back twenty years; gay men have not had an equivalent preoccupation and have been able to focus on their oppression as homosexuals.

It is mainly gay men who are doing the work: who are conducting the research, who have produced development theories regarding our sexuality; it is mainly gay men who have set up projects to help young gays and lesbians and who are developing our awareness of some of the pressures put on gay and lesbian youth and the effects of homophobia and heterosexism on gays and lesbians. While much of this is relevant to lesbians, it has been written/set up within a male framework and thus the special needs and experiences of lesbians - as female homosexuals who are also subjected to sexism - have not been examined. It is up to us, lesbians, to develop our understanding of lesbian oppression, using a lesbian framework but utilising both gay and feminist analyses.

Lesbian Framework

In 1990 Lesbian Information Service conducted research, within what we believe to be a lesbian framework, into the needs of young lesbians in an isolated Northern town in England where there is no support for lesbians and where the women's movement has hardly made an impact. The results of our research are extemely disturbing:

* all had experienced periods of depression; of the thirteen who took part, nine had attempted suicide, some five or six times; three had seriously thought about suicide, only one had never thought about it;

* all used alcohol, nine had had serious drink problems, five currently had problems;

* most of the particicpants had used drugs. Drugs, in particular acid (and alcohol) were involved in several suicide attempts; eight of the participants used tobacco;

* six abused themselves in other ways, for example, banging their head against the wall, cutting themselves, hitting the wall with their fists;

* four had experienced incest, two of whom had also been raped and a fifth had been raped and physically abused;

* one of the young lesbians had been a prostitute.

* eight of the participants had been homeless, two being homeless at the time of the survey;

Our research is unique for a number of reasons: it deals with isolated young lesbians who did not choose their lesbianism; we selected an area where there is no support for lesbians; our contacts came via personal sources (mainly from a working class lesbian who had lived in the area all of her life - thus many of the participants were working class), distributing leaflets in gay pubs, displaying posters (although most agencies refused to display it) and the local youth service. The questionnaire was very extensive and included aspects of discrimination in relation to sex, sexuality, race, ethnicity, class, disability, age and religion but with an emphasis on sexuality. We conducted in-depth interviews with each person, digressing from the questionnaire whenever relevant.

It is only after completing this stage of the research that we began to acquire research papers from the U.S.A. We are critically analysing these papers and are finding them extremely useful: they are helping us to place the results of our research into the context of homophobia and heterosexism, to develop our understanding of lesbian oppression and to move forward.

September 1992.

© Lesbian Information Service




Susan is a lesbian in her sixties. She has been in 'tied' accommodation for the last twenty years and works for a local council. Although eligible to retire, she has deferred retirement and is still employed at present. The situation regarding her housing is unclear as she doesn't know whether she'll be able to stay in her flat when she does eventually leave her job, or whether she'll be evicted. Obviously this is worrying to her. If she is to move she would like to be re-housed close to other lesbians where she knows there would be support and she wouldn't be isolated.

Helen age 54 years

Helen left her marriage after twenty years to come out as a lesbian. As the marital home was a council house there was no property to sell so the financial settlement after the divorce was very small. Her husband stayed in the council house with the children.

Since then (some seven years ago) Helen has lived in friends' homes as a lodger. Her only income is from her work - at the moment she is in full-time employment but she has had periods of unemployment in between temporary jobs in the past. She has been in her present situation for the last two to two-and-a-half years. For the first two years after leaving home Helen was a full-time student on a small grant. She did not earn enough to take out a mortgage.

The house she is currently lodging in is up for sale so Helen may be made homeless in the near future.

Helen would like to have her own flat in a housing association, if possible, and preferably live near other lesbians. If that were not possible she would prefer to share with other lesbians.

Pauline, age 76 years

Pauline has always been a lesbian but is very closeted. She was born, and grew up, in London. Her last relationship lasted many years but broke up as she gradually became more disabled. She is now severely disabled with osteo-arthritis. At the time her relationship ended she was living in Brighton but she decided to come back to London as her brother lived there.

At present she is living a very isolated life in a flat on the first floor above a furniture shop in Leytonstone. Her accommodation consists of two very dingy and cold rooms, a bedroom and a living room. The kitchen and bathroom are shared by other tenants in the building. Pauline is unable to get out as the stairs are too difficult to manage and she uses a wheelchair most of the time.

As a lesbian, who has lived a very closeted life, Pauline is very isolated because there is not a very visible lesbian community where she lives and the flat is quite difficult to get to by public transport - most of her friends travel by public transport. Pauline became so lonely and despairing that she tried to take an overdose and was in hospital for a while. She has been offered sheltered housing but refused it because she didn't want to share with heterosexual people as she feels she has little in common with them.

Pauline would dearly love to live near other lesbians but dreads the thought of being in a residential home and would rather stay in her dingy and cold rooms than be in heterosexual surroundings. She would need ground floor accommodation.

Lily and Nora

Lily and Nora were two women I met while working as a care assistant in an elderly person's home. The home was split into five bungalows, each with nine residents. I worked in bungalow 5; Lily and Nora lived in bungalow 2.

The first time I heard of either of them was at coffee breaks when staff would talk in disgusted voices about Lily. The general consensus was that Lily was a trouble maker who 'wouldn't leave Nora alone.' I volunteered to swop duties to work on bungalow 2 as often as possible.

Although I do not think that either Lily or Nora would have defined themselves as lesbians, certainly to my knowledge they never used the word, they were quite obviously in love. They liked to spend their evenings holding hands, watching television, chatting occasionally and sharing chocolates. Nora usually went to bed first and would always go to Lily for a goodnight kiss.

The other staff members found their affection for each other unbearable. Pinning all their venom on Lily, as she had never been married and was seen as the instigator with an unnatural influence on Nora, they did everything within their power to stop the relationship.

The report book, ordinarily used to note illness or medication given, contained a steady stream of ageist and homophobic comments. 'Lily interfering with Nora again. Had to send Lily to her room.' 'Moved Lily's wheelchair to the other side of the room. She won't stop touching Nora.' 'Had a row with Lily. She is being very awkward tonight. Tried to sit at Nora's table. I moved her back to her own place.' 'Nora crying tonight. Lily interfered. Told her to mind her own business.'

Lily and Nora wanted to share a room. Lily already occupied a double room which she had previously shared with her sister. When the other occupant died both women asked if Nora could move in. Their request was refused. I complained to the head of the home. I should have known better. The man used to tell jokes about AIDS at breakfast. His response was to have a blazing row with Lily about how selfish she was.

Lily was a very strong woman who would never let anyone know that they had hurt her but even she was shaken. Nora, always a very quiet woman, became more and more withdrawn and depressed. Lily was the only person she would speak to. The staff harassment grew worse. Both women were ill and dependent on staff for many needs. Lily was in a wheelchair and had a severe chest complaint. Staff would leave it until the last minute to take her to the toilet and then humiliate her in front of other residents by saying that she had wet herself. Lily would be bathed when Nora was ready to go to bed so that they could not kiss each other good night. When Lily was too ill to move her wheelchair herself they would ensure that the two women were seated at opposite ends of the room. And there would be constant disparaging comments about how 'difficult' they both were. The local authority in which the home was based was not interested in equal opportunities. Although there was a procedure for reporting physical abuse of residents, the mental abuse that the women suffered could only be challenged through the head of the home, himself a culprit.

A few months after I had started work at the home, Nora started to get very ill. I think she had cancer. She lost a great deal of weight, had trouble breathing and talking. Eventually she was confined to bed. Lily was distraught but was rarely allowed into Nora's room to see her. I would sneak into the bungalow some days and wheel Lily into Nora's room. They would sit holding hands. Lily would desperately encourage Nora to fight but she was quite obviously dying.

One evening I came on duty and was told that Nora was dying. The doctor was with her and she was not expected to last the night. I asked if Lily had been told. She had not. There was a social event that evening and staff thought 'we shouldn't spoil her evening.' A disco had been booked and all the residents were expected to attend. Lily, half guessing as the doctor went in and out of Nora's room, was desperate to see Nora. She argued and argued with the care officers in her bungalow. They wheeled her out into the main hall and positioned her wheelchair at the edge of the dance floor facing away from bungalow 2. I went over to talk to Lily and she begged to be taken back. I argued with care staff, senior care officers and the head of the home. Lily was told to stop whining and enjoy herself, Nora was going to be fine; she should stop making a fuss. Finally, one of the care assistants came out of the bungalow and told Lily that Nora had died. Until then, Lily had never shown what she called 'weak' emotions in public. Even when her sister had died she had shut herself in her room and grieved alone. Now she burst into tears, sobbing uncontrollably in front of sixty residents and staff. She cried for days and her health deteriorated rapidly. She had a bad attack of bronchitis and died just one week after Nora.

Anna, 73 years

Anna is a 73 year-old disabled lesbian. She is wheelchair bound outside of her home, using crutches indoors. When she became disabled in 1975 her G.P. advised her to move as the inaccessibiity of her privately rented accommodation was dangerous. After a referral by social services Anna was offered a council flat in Redbridge which she took. However, although her needs as a disabled woman were met, e.g. allocation of bath attendant, meals on wheels, isolation from the lesbian community became a problem, friends lived far away.

After waiting eight years on Westminster's Council list, they offered a 'short-life' tenancy, but when she moved in she found there was only heating in the front room. Moving into this one room, Anna found her first quarterly bill to be £488. It became obvious that Anna needed to move again. Her social worker at the time said that she could find her a place in a sheltered block. Anna told her social worker that she didn't really want to move to a sheltered block, but felt she was not able to explain to her the reasons why. These were that she didn't feel she could be 'out' as an older lesbian living in a close, predominantly heterosexual, community. Later that year Camden Council offered Anna a ground floor flat on a new council estate. She has now lived at this address for seven years. Although she feels more secure in some ways, e.g. there is an intercom and the tenancy is assured, Anna still lives in fear of victimisation from others on the estate if they should find out that she is an older lesbian living alone. Black tenants have had experiences of racist attacks with bricks thrown through the windows, and neighbours openly refer to lesbians and gay men as 'perves.' Although she lives nearer her lesbian friends the homophobia that surrounds her on the estate brings an isolation of its own.

Since contacting Penionsers Link and discovering the services it provides for older lesbians, Anna has had the opportunity to meet regularly with other older lesbians to discuss issues surrounding their lives. The housing needs of lesbians has proved to be an issue of great concern to the group.


Julia is a lesbian in her late 70's who is mobile but very frail. She lives in a sheltered block which has one male resident. She is the only lesbian in the block and is assumed to be heterosexual. Thus, although she has physical support, she feels very socially and emotionally isolated and not valued for herself. She has nobody with whom she can share her life experience or with whom she can identify. Julia is scared to come out and feels no sense of connection with the other people in the block. She is desperate to live close to other lesbians.


These case studies reveal that there are lesbians in residential care who are vulnerable and who are being abused by both workers and management because of their sexuality. They reveal the total isolation many old lesbians find themselves in when they have to live in heterosexual environments; they reveal the desperate need for special sheltered housing for old lesbians.

The lesbian Workers Group have made the following suggestions to care workers and managers in residential homes:

* Although this point has been made many times, it is still worth emphasising that not everyone is heterosexual, in fact the commonest figure is that 10% of the population is gay, so don't assume that all the residents are straight.

* For those people unable to care for themselves and who need help, they may prefer to be helped by a male or female worker.

* Everyone has the right to privacy but unfortunately, in communal living, especially for older people, this is more often than not disregarded. This is not just for things like bathing and dressing but stretches to personal affairs also.

* People living in residential care should be consulted about policies and changes in their living arrangements and should be instrumental in forming those policies.

* Residents should have the same access to community facilites and services as anyone else and the right to chose their own G.P., etc., without questions.

* Residents should be able to mix with anyone outside in the community and be able to invite their friends and lovers into the home.

* Everyone has the right to have their sexual needs/desires respected and accepted.

* Personal belongings must be allowed to be kept private, i.e. rooms locked and no-one should be allowed in without the residents permission.

* Residents should be able to share rooms with whom they like; to live as a couple and sleep with whom they like.

* People should be able to show their emotions and feelings to their loved ones.

* Residents should be allowed to talk about their past without being ostracised and attacked.

* Women should be asked how they would like to be addressed and not quizzed as to whether they have been married and why not. Workers should not assume that everyone has been married, or that they are necessarily gay or straight.

* Gay residents should have the space to be able to meet up.

* Gay residents also have the right to live as a group, i.e. shelterd accommodation for older gay women.

* Residents should be allowed to live as a couple, maintain sexual activity and be able to look after each other in privacy.

* Gay publications should be made available to residents who wish it and available as a matter of course to the home.

The Pensioners Link lesbian Workers Group can be contacted by ringing 071.241.0440 ("Cold Line") and asking for Lin Groves.


"Buying Your Home With Other People," Dave Treanor, £5.95, from National Federation of Housing Associations, 88 Old Street, London, EC1V 9HU.

An invaluable resource which includes sections on co-ops, funding, and other ways of groups living together.

"Equality in Housing, Lesbians and Gay Men," 1990, Association of London Authorities, 36 Old Queen Street, London, SW1H 9JF.

Contents included in this Pack. If you are interested in Lesbians and housing you must have this document.

"Four in Ten, Report on young women who become homeless as a result of sexual abuse," Mandana Hendessi, CHAR, 1992.

Good book which includes examples of Young Lesbians but, like Dibblin's book, is at the same time tokenistic and does not take on the special housing needs of Young Lesbians.

"Housing Equality - An Action Guide," Rita Dutta and Jill Taylor.

A guide to the implementation of equal opportunity policies in housing and other voluntary agencies. Contains sections on history of equal opportunities work, implementing housing, employment and service delivery policies for the benefit of women, Black and Minority Ethnic people, Lesbians, Gay men, people with Disabilities and people with AIDS. Available from CHAR, price £5.95 plus £1.50 p&p.

"Housing for Lesbians and Gays, Background Papers to a Conference held by CHAR on 1st October 1988 at Leeds Polytechnic." Available from CHAR 5-15 Cromer Street, London, WC1H 8LS.

Includes papers on Housing and the Law - the Current Position; the Housing Bill; 1986 Social Security Act; Racism in the Social Security System; the Community Charge; the Immigration Bill; plus discussion
papers on Council Housing, Housing Associations and Co-ops; Monitoring (included in this Pack); Leaving Care.

"Housing for Lesbians and Gay Men, Report of a Conference held on 1st October 1988," CHAR, address as above.

Contents: Background - Choices, the attack on civil rights, the Housing Act, Social Security Changes, Community Charge, Section 28; Caucuses - women, Black people, people with Disabilities; Workshops - local authorities and housing associations, housing co-ops, special projects - Stonewall Housing Association, housing for people with HIV infection, AIDS and ARC, residents' rights, private rented sector, isolated workers, advice centres; Issues arising out of the conference - housing for older Lesbians and gay men, Lesbians and gay men leaving care, supportive accommodation for people with mental Disabilities, monitoring; the Way Forward.

"Lesbians and Housing in Leicester," Report of a pilot study conducted by L.I.S. in 1987/8, price £5.40 available from L.I.S:

"Lesbians and Housing in Leicester," is a report of a pilot study. The survey deals specifically with Lesbians in Leicester but the report is relevant to all housing agencies: local authority, housing association, housing co-op, or special projects e.g. residential homes for people with alcohol-related problems. This 45-page report, which puts the research into the context of heterosexism, points out that there are some Lesbians, e.g. Black Lesbians, Young and Old Lesbians, Differently-Abled Lesbians and Lesbian Mothers, who are particularly vulnerable. It goes on to examine some of the effects that living in a heterosexist society has on Lesbians which makes them especially vulnerable and in need of supported accommodation. The report contains the complete findings of the survey as well as five case studies, recordings of visits to local hostels to ascertain their suitability for Lesbians, and a list of recommendations.

"Out but not Down, the Housing Needs of Lesbians," Sandra Anlin, £2.50 individuals, £5 institutions, Homeless Action, 52-54 Featherstone Street, London, EC1Y 8RT, 1989, ISBN 0 9514897 0 4.

Based on a dissertation, Sandra Anlin conducted research into the
housing needs of Lesbians as experienced by staff, management committee members and residents of Homeless Action. Lots of useful information but I feel that the researcher missed a golden opportunity to concentrate on the housing needs of Working Class Lesbians.

"Report of a Conference, Single Women and Homelessness, held on 22nd October 1986," available from CHAR, address as above.

Contains paper on Lesbians and Housing (included in this Pack).

"Wherever I Lay My Hat, Young Women and Homelessness," Jane Dibblin, Shelter, 1991.

Very good book about young women and homelessness which includes the stories of at least two Young Lesbians. In other ways the author is tokenistic regarding Young Lesbians.

Lesbians, Gay Men and Housing, Jane Dibblin, Shelter Fact Sheet No 6, 50p, available from Shelter. (n.b. this gives our address as Leicester which is incorrect).

The Reality of Sexuality, Gerard Lemos & Paul Crane, Housing, 1993, Vol 29(4) p40-41.

Housing authorities could do much more to help homeless lesbians and gay men by interpreting the legislation favourably.