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Wednesday 08 October 2008

Proclamations of the Red Queen

9th September 2008

What About LGBT Poverty? A Challenge to Our Communities

Posted by: Craig Young

homeless1.jpgThe Council of Christian Social Services has challenged New Zealand political parties to do something about poverty in this country, through issuing an open letter to them on the eve of the next general election. I endorse this approach, and once again, I challenge our own communities to do something about LGBT poverty.

According to the open letter, the Child Poverty Action Group, Barnardos, the Office of the Childrens Commissioner and even the Ministry of Social Development (Pockets of Significant Hardship and Poverty) have drawn attention to entrenched poverty and deprivation within New Zealand society.  As for the open letter, it was signed by the Salvation Army, Presbyterian Support, Iosis Family Solutions, Wesley Community Action, New Zealand Baptist Social Services, Selwyn Foundation, Christchurch Methodist Mission, Anglican Action and Anglican Care. I realise that many of us still distrust the Salvation Army and Presbyterian Church over the former’s opposition to homosexual law reform and the latter’s discrimination against lesbian and gay candidates for ordination, but what about us? Are we doing anything to deal with poverty within our own communities?

The Council of Christian Social Services has an excellent series of Factsheets On Poverty, but as I suspect many of us haven’t read them, they are as follows. Poverty leads to inadequate nutrition, hunger, poor personal health, reduced life expectancy, debt and housing problems. Current government benefit levels are inadequate to provide assistance, even given prodigious budgeting skills amongst those in poverty. It is inadequate income from benefits that is the problem here, as well as debt.

Then we come to the Domestic Purposes Benefit. Do you really believe that everyone in our community is childless, single or in a dual income professional couple? What about lesbian and gay adolescents who have kids to “prove” their gender identity? What about lesbian and gay solo parents? We simply don’t know. Some preliminary survey-based research shows that lesbian and gay male parents do have diminished incomes relative to their childless counterparts, but there was no indication of presence or absence of current relationships and their duration.

Are we also to suppose that there aren’t working poor lesbians, gay men and transfolk, trying to eke out a low wage or casually employed existence that barely covers their rent or food bills?

What about ethnicty, sexual orientation, gender identity and poverty? What happens to takatapui or whakawahine/tangata ira tane, fa’afafine et al if whanau or aiga reject them, or if their whanau/aiga is already desperately poor and in need? I would dearly love to sit down with the Maori Party particularly and have a good long talk about what LGBT communities can do, alongside existing iwi and urban Maori authority-based organisations to deal with the dangers that face takatapui and whakawahine.

I realise that we haven’t had a tradition of sitting down and talking about LGBT folk in poverty. That has to change. It is high time that we met the challenge that the NZCSS has posed to our parliamentary parties, for they were not only talking to our elected representatives, but to their country as a whole. Regardless of differences of faith or philosophy, they deserve strong commendation and support for that, and I hope our politicians listen and make the neccessary legislative changes.

Strongly Recommended:

NZCSSS Facts on Poverty website.

Tags: Politics · Religion

2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Michael Stevens // Sep 12, 2008 at 12:45 pm

    The myth of the “Pink Dollar” doesn’t help us much in all this either.

  • 2 Craig Young // Sep 12, 2008 at 8:15 pm

    I imagine it must be worse if one is trying to live with HIV/AIDS in that context. Or breast cancer, for that matter.

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