• Heather Paterson

The first cut is the queerest

Updated: Mar 25, 2019

So last week I blogged about power, privilege and the intersectionality of oppressions and again this week we continue to see the reality of this as George Osbourne warns of yet further austerity cuts. Unless you have been living in a cave for the past few years you will have seen the continuing cuts to healthcare, education, welfare and public services in general.

Now these cuts are all targetted at the most vulnerable in society - they target the poor, the disabled and the otherwise disadvantaged. However for the LGBT community* these cuts are doubly painful.

*Note: This also applies to other minority / marginalised communities but I am writing from the perspective of the community of which I am a member and have specific knowledge of.

LGBT specific services currently recieve just 4p of every £100 of voluntary sector income so already struggle just to exist and fund their essential services. When the voluntary sector is under attack from ideological austerity measures this struggle increases massively with numerous services reduced or simply ceasing to exist. Many of these services are resposible for changing or indeed saving the lives of LGBT people so their reduction or closures can have tragic consequences for those who rely on them.

We are seeing the effects of austerity on LGBT specific services with amoungst others the closure of PACE, London's leading LGBT mental health service after 31 years, the threatened closure of Broken Rainbow, Britain's only national LGBT domestic violence charity and HIV support services facing closure as councils withdraw funding. However, it is not just the LGBT specific services we are affected by, LGBT people are being disproportionatley affected by many of the other cuts.

The cuts to mental health services (3,300 fewer mental health nursing posts and 1,500 fewer beds for mental health patients) has a massively disproportionate affect on the 69% of LGB youth and 89% of Trans* people who have considered suicide compared with 18% of heterosexual / cisgendered population.

The 30% rise in rough sleeping following the ending of funding for the 'No Second Night Out' programme needs to be considered alongside the fact that a quarter of homeless youth are LGBT compared to approximately 6% of the general population.

LGBT people are two and a half times more likely to face workplace dicrimination. However in times of austerity, job cuts and zero hours contracts many people are afraid to challenge workplace discrimination believing they are simply lucky to have a job regardless of conditions they may face.

Cuts to police services affect those facing hate crimes, the huge cuts to the NHS affect the already severely underfunded provision for health care for trans* people, nutrional problems faced by those in poverty resorting to food bank use are more damaging to people with HIV...

The list goes on, many people seem to think that the campaign for LGBT equality ended with the abolition of Section 28, the equalising of the age of consent of the legislation for same sex marriage, however the above shows that the campaigning is needed as much now as ever. Homophobic attacks still take place but while we are now less likely to be attacked in the street (although this sadly still happens) we as a community are now under attack from our own government.

Now I don't have all of the answers or possession of a magic wand and in the face of trying times it is easy to feel powerless to change anything. Individually there are things that we can do, for those who are able with a couple of hours to spare we can volunteer for local services who are struggling or organise fundraising events for them. And together we are greater than the sum of our parts, based on an estimate of 6% of population, that equates to almost four million of us. Together that is a lot of voting and spending power, which for those in power who wish to remain that way is a voice they have to listen to.

Every teen that sleeps on the street tonight is one too many, every person feeling desparate enough to take their own life is one too many, every person unable to access the healthcare they require is one too many. It is time for us to stand up and say enough is enough. It is time to get angry and it is time to do whatever we can to defened ourselves and every other community and individual being attacked by austerity measures.

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