Lesbian housing. Is this legal?

What about Victoria's strict anti-discrimination laws? I guess they can be "bent" for favoured groups

AS an older lesbian, Thelma Tapp was becoming anxious about ageing. She had heard stories of discrimination and homophobia inside nursing homes. But thanks to a new social housing project in Brunswick it is likely she will not have to face it.

The housing, for lesbians aged over 65 experiencing housing stress, is believed to be the first of its type in Australia. It was developed by the Matrix Guild of Victoria and the Victorian Women’s Housing Association.

The three, two-bedroom units in a complex in Albert St are wheelchair accessible, making them suitable for ageing tenants.

Thelma (not her real name) and two other women will be able to rent the units for one quarter of their income for as long as they wish. On the open market, the units would fetch about $350 a week - the equivalent of Thelma’s entire income.

A workplace injury has left her unlikely to work again and she had been homeless for 18 months, so the prospect of affordable long-term accommodation was a huge relief. “I’ve been given this wonderful opportunity and for the first time in 18 months I can finally call somewhere home,” she said.

Matrix will also put her in touch with other lesbians living in the inner-north. “I’m not going to be lonely,” she said. “It’s just been life changing.”

Matrix Guild housing convener Anneke Deutsch said its mission to provide affordable housing to older lesbians began years ago in response to reports of discrimination in aged-care facilities.

“When older women are vulnerable and reliant on people who might be homophobic doing personal care, often women prefer to stay closeted than be out,” she said. “We started off wanting to have an aged-care facility, but that’s a huge amount of work and we found most older lesbians wanted to live in their own homes.”

There are no statistics on the number of number of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex people over 65 in Australia. But given they make up about 10 per cent [Bollocks! More like 2%] of the population, there would be about 240,000, based on 2002 figures from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

Ms Deutsch said housing stress was common among older lesbians because many had acquired little wealth. Ms Deutsch hoped the Brunswick project, dedicated to former member Heather Chapple whose $300,000 bequest helped fund the project, was the first of many.


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