International Youth Day: Eradicating LGBT Poverty
On August 12, 2016, the UN joined the world in celebrating International Youth Day with the theme of “Eradicating Poverty and Achieving Sustainable Consumption and Production.”
Poverty is a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) issue. It is a common fear for youths in Trinidad and Tobago to be threatened with homelessness if they are found to be LGBT. Coming out has become one of the hardest decisions for LGBT youths, as in most cases they are forcefully thrown out from their households and banned from returning by their parents and caregivers. The result of being discriminated against by their parents and families often leads to homelessness, unemployment, hunger and violence.
Improper governmental support for parents of LGBT youths can be seen as a major cause for this mentality. Parents are not informed about the available information and services (if any) that are available to assist with having an LGBT child. Resources from non-governmental organizations (NGOs) such as The Silver Lining Foundation (SLF) are not made readily available by government social support facilities, and there has been no move to implement support groups for parents. There is a general gap between government and LGBT NGOs that are creating resources and informational material to deal with the coming out journey for both parents and children.
Furthermore, some LGBT youths cannot escape anti-LGBT prejudice at the workplace. Those who are open about their sexuality face many challenges in their work environments. This prompts their dismissal by homophobic supervisors, or results in their departure, leading them to low-wage jobs or joblessness.
This issue of poverty is immediately related to the lack of policies and laws that govern and protect the rights of LGBT citizens in Trinidad and Tobago. LGBT persons are not afforded the same courtesies as long as their colleagues are privy to their sexual preferences. They struggle daily with homophobia and transphobia, and without consideration of other factors such as education and experience, they pay the ultimate price of having to endure low-wage jobs (that may be below their qualification) or face unemployment.
This directly affects the ability of Trinidad and Tobago to have sustainable consumption and production as it does not promote its resources to enhance the quality of life for every citizen. To deny citizens their basic human rights based on their sexual preferences is a regressive move for Trinidad and Tobago.
It is our hope that the observance of International Youth Day can bring about awareness of the challenges faced by LGBT Youths in Trinidad and Tobago, and through continuous dialogue, these issues of poverty and discrimination can be eradicated.