Lots of studies found a strong relationship between being LBT+ and being unable to find decent work. For example, in Jamaica, ‘71.4 per cent of respondents felt trans and gender non-conforming persons have a harder time getting jobs than cisgender persons, and 51.7 per cent felt that their current or past unemployment was linked to their gender identity’. In Zimbabwe, 33.7 per cent of survey respondents said their real or perceived sexuality and/or gender identity had led to ‘expulsion, disownment and job loss’.
In Burundi, 61 per cent of respondents ‘believed their sexual orientation prevents them from accessing job opportunities that can allow them to improve their living conditions’. Respondents also felt fear and demotivation. One stated, ‘The fear of being rejected because of my sexual orientation is so strong that I have given up applying for jobs’. Another said, ‘It’s very difficult for me to find a job because of my masculine-presenting look. I don’t even bother searching for one anymore’.
Various studies investigated the likelihood of family eviction for LBT+ people. In Venezuela, 6 per cent of gay male survey respondents had experienced eviction because of discrimination, along with 7 per cent of bi respondents and 12 per cent of lesbians. However, 33 per cent of trans women and 25 per cent of trans men had experienced family eviction.
Researchers found clear links between exclusion from work, families and education and resulting experiences of poverty. In Burundi, LBT+ people were found to face significant poverty, including lack of food and shelter. Only 31 per cent of respondents said they had a source of income. Of those, 19 per cent said their income allowed them to have 3 meals a day, 14 per cent could pay their rent, 15 per cent could afford basic health care services and 8 per cent could make savings.
In Jamaica, the most commonly reported income in the survey was $0.00 per month. 45.7 per cent of survey respondents had been hungry and unable to afford food for more than a day. However, the study shows that experiences of hunger may be strongly shaped by gender, with no trans men reporting going hungry for more than a day. This reflects patterns of employment – while 55 per cent of trans men were unemployed, the figure increased to 81 per cent of trans women.
The research projects undertaken as part of the Out of the Margins project prove that LBT+ people face massive challenges when it comes to economic well-being. They also highlight the vast difference financial security can make for LBT+ communities. In Nigeria, it was shown that those with economic independence were less likely to experience certain forms of violence, stress, and ‘social consequences’ associated with not adhering to societal norms and laws. As one respondent put it:
‘I feel like if I lived in my parents’ home, I will be under constant pressure to be married… pretend to be heterosexual for peace to reign. But the fact that I own my own money, that I don’t live under their own roof that I pay for myself, and I pay my way … makes a huge difference…That level of control that they’re able to have over, say, my cousins, my siblings and other family members doesn’t exist with me just because of that economic independence. Instead of where decisions are taken over me, now I’m invited to the table when decisions are being made.’
Out of the Margins used the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals to guide their research. These include the aim to end poverty and to secure decent work for all. This report makes clear exactly how crucial it is that the SDGs are met, and the difference it will make for LBT+ people when they are. For more information, and to read the whole report, click here.