modern slavery

LGBTQ+ people disproportionately affected by sex trafficking and exploitation

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This Pride month, LGBTQ+ people are celebrating their communities and the rights they have fought for to live their lives as they please.

However, many LGBTQ+ people around the world still do not live in safety or freedom as they face persecution from their governments, or rejection from their families or cultural communities.

This marginalisation means that LGBTQ+ people are often disproportionately affected by sexual abuse and human trafficking.

Criminals, trafficking gangs, and those looking to prey on those who are vulnerable, will seek out people without support networks, who are poor, homeless, marginalised, or desperate.

LGBTQ+ people who have had to flee difficult or unsafe situations often fall into these categories and are vulnerable to manipulation and exploitation.

In countries where a person’s sexuality puts them in danger, traffickers can use this fear of exposure to coerce their victims into performing sex acts or into forced labour. They will then use the fear of arrest to silence them and prevent them from seeking help.

Traffickers may also promise a better life elsewhere in order to gain their victim’s trust and encourage them to migrate. Once they have begun their journey abroad, victims may find themselves held in slavery, or trapped in debt bondage for the cost of their travel.

If they feel forced to migrate in order to flee arrest and the possibility of execution, then they become vulnerable to all the dangers and complications that being an asylum seeker brings.

Even in ‘progressive’ countries such as the UK and USA, a disproportionate number of young homeless people identify as LGBTQ+. In the UK 24% of young homeless people identify as LGBTQ+, while in America, as much as 40% of young homeless people identify as LGBTQ+. Family rejection and violence is often cited as the reason given for leaving home, and a fear of institutionalized homophobia or transphobia from law enforcement can prevent people from seeking help.

Homelessness makes people very vulnerable to exploitation and sexual abuse, especially if people feel compelled to engage in ‘survival sex,’ which is sex work in exchange for food or money to live. Many people may also find themselves agreeing to exploitative working conditions or poor quality accommodation in order to escape the streets.

Making people less vulnerable and attractive to traffickers is key to preventing modern slavery from taking place. Increasing levels of acceptance, protection, and equality across society for all people in the LGBTQ+ community would therefore decrease the number of people who become victims.

If you are an LGBTQ+ person in the UK seeking asylum support, contact Rainbow Migration here:

If you are an LGBTQ+ person in the UK experiencing homelessness, contact the akt organisation here: