LGBT+ charities and activists staged a “kiss-in” protest outside a London letting agency yesterday after a lesbian couple were allegedly denied a room by a landlord last May.
A large group of LGBT+ people gathered outside the letting agency to voice their opposition to the couple’s treatment.
In a statement released today, The Outside Project, a charity that seeks to provide shelter for homeless LGBT+ people, said that the agency had refused to show the apartment to the couple because the landlord was looking for “male/female couples.”
They also claim that the couple received no further contact from the agency to help them with their property search, and that the agency has since ignored correspondence from a support service asking them to clarify their position.
In the wide-ranging statement, The Outside Project also allege that the treatment of the couple was illegal, and say that “sexual orientation of tenants is not a ‘preference’ for landlords.”
Carla Ecola, Director of The Outside Project, said that LGBT+ people face a number of barriers in accessing safe housing, due to insecure networks, lack of family support, unemployment, poverty and hate crime.
“Prejudice from estate agencies and landlords drive our community to illegal, insecure tenancy agreements in areas they do not feel safe and adds to the alarmingly higher rate of homelessness amongst our community.
“We support this peaceful protest in standing together against the LGBTIQ+ homelessness caused by the systemic oppression of our community within the housing sector and demand equality in access to safe accommodation,” she added.
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When contacted by PinkNews today, Wood Green Estates denied all allegations of homophobia, and said that the couple who were denied a viewing had misunderstood the landlord’s intentions.
Leo, who refused to give his surname but said that he is manager of the letting agency, claimed that the landlord had refused to allow the couple to view the letting, but only because he was only willing to let to one person.
He said that he was “confused” when the protesters arrived at the premises yesterday, and claimed he had not been aware of the issue beforehand.
“They’ve taken it the wrong way and have wound themselves up unnecessarily,” he said. “We’ve been here 28 years and we’ve dealt with anybody and everybody. If a person is working and with a reasonable income, we will try and get a property to suit their means.”
He also said that they have let properties to people in the LGBT+ community in the past, and that they would have no problem letting to LGBT+ people going forward.
Carla Ecola, Director of The Outside Project, told PinkNews that the idea that this was a misunderstanding is “a fabrication.”
She also accused the agency’s manager of pouring water over protesters to try and get them to move.
“The estate agent does lie. He flatly denied pouring water over our protesters yesterday. Before he even tried to speak to us he came out and said, ‘can you all move?’ He thought we were all homeless and were protesting about that.”