Challenges and barriers for LGBTQ+ Newcomers

EYET’s Community Conversation: Exploring challenges and barriers for LGBTQ+ Newcomers

During the Community Conversation on April 27, 2022, we invited a guest presenter from Access Alliance Multicultural Health & Community Services to speak about key findings from their 2021 published report on Beyond Positive Intentions – supporting the social services sector with the purpose of advancing well-being and equity for LGBTQ+ Newcomers. 

In the facilitated small-group conversations, most event participants did not find this report surprising as many of them have witnessed that LGBTQ +Newcomers are one the most vulnerable and neglected groups in our communities. Unfortunately, they often arrive here in the mind that you could find a safe space, but find it challenging to settle down. 

In the breakout groups, participants also discussed the challenges faced by LGBTQ+ Newcomers and shared some solutions and resources. Click Here to see a list of resources for LGBTQ+ Newcomers.

Key Challenges Identified: 

  • In one instance, an LGBTQ+ Newcomer stayed with family members for a certain amount of time, and when the family found out about their sexual orientation, they had to leave. 
  • In general, LGBTQ+ Newcomers face problems of having no privacy and staying in unacceptable accommodations like a storage room. 
  • Citizenship status is a big issue. 
  • Barriers faced by LGBTQ+ Newcomers include being disrespected and excluded even within LGBTQ+ specific services.  
  • The experiences of refugees with families, and if services change for them when they disclose their LGBTQ+ identity. 
  • A main challenge for health service providers/practitioners is making ‘dead end’ referrals to housing support, which results in clients being placed on a 15 year wait list. 
  • Within primary care, lack of knowledge and awareness of community resources for this population. 
  • Newcomers face discrimination with landlords in regards to race, their source of income and having low income.  
  • Landlords request a credit check, but LGBTQ+ Newcomers don’t have a history in the country. 
  • Income is a big challenge for newcomers. There is simply not enough transitional or supportive housing. 
  • Private market rental units are mostly unaffordable. 
  • Housing workers work from ‘Housing First’ model, but this could represent a barrier – clients need to focus on finding housing rather than securing work that could assist them in finding and maintaining housing. 
  • Other barriers include language, low knowledge of Canada/city they are in, combined with addressing mental health and/or emotional needs. 
  • There are very few services for individuals with intersecting identities (ex. trans man who is pregnant). The more variables in a person’s life the harder it is. 


  • Spreading knowledge of rental laws, and the tenants’ rights. It is essential to have information like this in the particular language, keeping LGBTQ+ Newcomers in mind. 
  • LGBTQ+ Newcomers often require more privacy in some cases. There should be a recognition of this and there should be more subsidies available to them. 
  • Mandatory training for landlords. 
  • A forum like this needs to be created where community workers can speak with other people in similar fields. More awareness and education need to be created to advocate for LGBTQ+ Newcomers at various levels.  
  • More agencies should start having these discussions. There should be best practices developed. 
  • Sharing of available resources is important so that whenever community workers meet people who need them, good connections are already established to refer them. 
  • City-run shelter workers need to get ongoing training and information about how to work with this population. 
  • There should be more hiring of LGBTQ+ newcomers in helping roles, to create more visibility. 
  • Housing is a human right and should be looked at this way by everyone including landlords. 
  • It is important to know that sometimes LGBTQ+ Newcomers want to avoid people from their own communities. 
  • Even though more shelters are being made for Newcomers. More needs to be done for LGBTQ+ Newcomers, specifically. 
  • One-time training is not enough to address the needs of LGBTQ+ Newcomers. Accountability is important and involves leadership and government to get involved. 
  • Accountability mechanisms should be in place where complaints can be brought to municipal government / housing commissioner. 
  • More needs to be done on the ground. An example is rotation of shelter staff. Agencies often use casual, on calls or relief staff. Communication between these staff and regular employees needs to improve. Clients are having to repeat their needs and story, which lacks consistency and could be triggering for these individuals. 
  • Shelter staff need to use an intersectional lens and try not to erase culture. Clients should be allowed to keep their identities and staff should learn how to address diversity, inclusion and equity.

Click Here to see a list of resources for LGBTQ+ Newcomers

Click Here to return back to Community Conversations!