Brief Explanation Why LGBTI Persons Must Be Included In The Efforts To Achieve Sustainable Development Goal 11

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Sustainable Development Goal 11:
Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable


This year at the High Level Political Forum on the Sustainable Development Goals (HLPF) in New York, the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 11: Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable will be considered (SDG 11).

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI)1 people living in urban contexts continue to face killings, violent attacks, torture, arbitrary detention, forced marriage, denial of rights to assembly and expression and systemic structural barriers to education, healthcare, housing, and labor market participation on the basis of their actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, and/or sex characteristics.2 In order to achieve the aims of SDG 11, the human rights and development needs of LGBTI individuals must be included in the effort to make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable.



LGBTI people are disproportionately overrepresented in homeless populations, often due to discrimination and violence perpetrated against them by their families.3 This can be compounded by prejudice from landlords. While experiencing homelessness LGBTI people face an increased risk of violence, sexual abuse, exploitation, mental health issues, and criminalization.

Providing housing for vulnerable and displaced populations as well as addressing the factors that drive LGBTI homelessness is key to achieving SDG target 11.1: “By 2030, ensure access for all to adequate, safe and affordable housing and basic services and upgrade slums”. Where data is available, between 25% and 40% of the homeless youth population in cities globally are estimated to be LGBT.4 Within the City of Toronto shelter system for example, LGBTI youth have twice the occupancy rate as all other youth combined. The majority of these youth have been forced to leave their familial home due to conflict, including homophobia, transphobia and, mostly commonly, abuse and violence.

#LGBTI youth who seek out support while experiencing homelessness are faced with discriminatory attitudes and inappropriate services.5 Studies have found that assumptions of heterosexuality by service providers play a significant role in deterring young people from accessing housing services.6 Local government, housing associations, and service agencies are ill-equipped, ill-trained, and lack the awareness and knowledge of, as well as policy and programming that speaks to, the unique experiences and needs of LGBTI communities, especially the transgender and gender-diverse communities.


Ensuring the safety of LGBTI persons, as well as their freedom of expression, association, and assembly in public spaces will help achieve SDG target 11.7: “By 2030, provide universal access to safe, inclusive and accessible, green and public spaces, in particular for women and children, older persons and persons with disabilities”. LGBTI people face heightened vulnerability in public spaces, sometimes due to intimidation by authorities. For example, while Indonesia’s National Criminal Code does not prohibit consensual same-sex relations, according to some reports persons suspected of being LGBT have been unlawfully detained by officers and marched unclothed in front of the media to publicly humiliate them.7 Another example, the repeated cancellation of Istanbul Pride, along with the subsequent intimidation by authorities of LGBTI people who still gathered in Taksim Square,8 seriously undermines efforts to create inclusive and safe public urban spaces for LGBT people in Turkey. When LGBTI people cannot safely access public spaces, they are denied the ability to live fully in the cities they call home. Further, violence against LGBTI individuals often goes unpursued or unpunished, which grants impunity to behaviour that endangers lives and makes public spaces unsafe for LGBTI people.


1. Enact non-discrimination policies for housing and employment: The non-discrimination principle of the 2030 Agenda can be utilised by development actors to promote access to safe, equitable housing “for all”, as noted in particular in Targets 11.1 and 11.2.9 Further, LGBTI communities should be protected by laws and policies supporting their inclusion in the labor market.

2. Promote accessibility to public services, especially for the most vulnerable: Support and train local government and housing associations to take account of the specific needs of LGBTI youth, especially transgender and gender-nonconforming youth.10 Ensure LGBTI asylum seekers and newcomers are provided accessible information (i.e. in multiple languages and formats) that outlines their rights, available services, and address common settlement questions and concerns.11

3. Improve data collection and reporting: Civil society should advocate for the inclusion of sexual orientation and gender identity/expression identifiers to the risk factors of indicators 11.7.2 and 11.1.1 to properly disaggregate data in a way that captures the unique experiences of all vulnerable groups and shows trends of compounded marginalization when gender identity, attraction, race, and ability intersect.12 The current SDG indicators are ineffective in capturing the unique experiences of LGBTI persons.



1 Reference to LGBTI people is intended to include all people with diverse sexual orientations, gender identities, gender expressions, and sex characteristics, who may not necessarily identify as LGBTI.

2 Ibid.

3 UN Habitat. Habitat III Issues Paper 20: Housing. Oct. 2016. Accessed:

4 Ibid.

5 A. Bucik, A. Ptolemy, C. Ali-Akow, and M. Devonish. Queering the Sustainable Development Goals in Canada. 2017. Accessed: 6 Ibid.

7 Human Rights Watch. “Scared in Public and Now No Privacy: Human Rights and Public Health Impacts of Indonesia’s Anti-LGBT Moral Panic.” 1 July 2018. Accessed:

8 B. McKernan. Independent. “Istanbul Pride: Eleven arrested as march goes ahead despite official ban”. 2 July 2018. Accessed:

9 Stonewall International. “The Sustainable Development Goals and LGBT Inclusion”. Accessed:

10 Ibid.

12 Ibid.

12 Ibid.