Supporting LGBTQ+ clients

Pride month takes place every June when people come together to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community. As well as being a month of celebration, Pride month is also an opportunity to peacefully protest and raise political awareness of issues facing the LGBTQ+ community. 

In June 1970, the first ever Gay Pride march set off from the Stonewall Inn, New York, with several hundred people. Pride in New York now has approximately 2.5 million people coming together annually to celebrate. 

The injustices facing those who identify as LGBTQ+ cannot be ignored. In 2020, there are still 73 countries which criminalise private, consensual, same-sex sexual activity. Almost half of these are Commonwealth jurisdictions. Being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender is illegal. In 12 of these countries, this can be punishable by death.

Supporting survivors of modern slavery in the LGBTQ+ community

City Hearts supports survivors of modern slavery. Those we support come from all over the world and have often been trafficked into the UK during their exploitation. They have suffered terrible, traumatic abuse at the hands of their traffickers. We offer safety and long-term support to help them rebuild their lives. 

In many of our clients’ home countries, being persecuted or killed for your sexuality is the norm. Even in countries where this is not a crime, homophobia or transphobia is prevalent through prejudice, bullying or violence. We want to make those we support as comfortable as possible, creating a safe and supportive environment in which they can be open about their sexuality without fear of prejudice or judgement.

How can I help?

Each person in the LGBTQ+ community will have different experiences with their identity. We’ve listed some helpful ways to support LGBTQ+ clients, which may be useful if you work with vulnerable people, or want to learn more about the importance of this support;

  • Create a comfortable space for LGBTQ+ clients to speak about their experiences
  • Give LGBTQ+ clients time, discussing their identity openly may be something completely unheard of for them
  • If someone opens up to you, express appreciation that they consider you a safe person 
  • If you or your team are unsure of how to approach LGBTQ+ needs from clients, look for support and information from other staff members or support groups.
  • Consider the client’s sexual orientation or gender identity; LGBTQ+ clients may feel more comfortable working with people of a specific gender
  • Consider the most appropriate accommodation for trans clients, depending on how they identify
  • Be aware that clients may have faced prejudice, or are at risk because of their sexuality. This can impact things like their response to trauma, their interaction with others, and practical things such as their reasons for claiming asylum
  • Discuss with clients pronouns of their preference rather than making assumptions
  • Introduce clients to LGBTQ+ Groups
  • Be aware of support services eg. LASS, GAFS, SAYiT etc. 
  • Keep in mind other relevant dates/events for the LGBTQ+ community throughout the year (international day against homophobia, international day of trans visibility, etc.) 

Thank you to Mary Tear, Simon Hurtado-Delgado and Natalie Ballard for their contributions to this piece.