PinkNews.co.uk has as an article about a decision by Brighton & Hove Council to cut a £13K ($19K) grant to Pilgrim Homes, a Christian-run care home for the elderly, over accusations of “institutionalised homophobia” at the home that “deterred [gay people] from applying to live there”. My initial reaction was to think this is a good thing, however on reflection I’m not quite so sure.A New York Times article in October 2007 highlighted how elderly LGBT people are amongst the most vulnerable members of our community, in large part because their generation as a whole is typically the most homophobic. It was for this reason that Europe’s first care home for the elderly gays opened last January in Germany; it is unlikely to be the last – in fact I expect there to be several in the UK within the next decade. To me, the idea of spending my final days surrounded by LGBT & LGBT-friendly people is a comforting one, in part because of the possibility of the kind of experience that Gloria Donadello relates in the NYT article linked to above:
Even now, at 81 and with her memory beginning to fade, Gloria Donadello recalls her painful brush with bigotry at an assisted-living center in Santa Fe, N.M. Sitting with those she considered friends, “people were laughing and making certain kinds of comments, and I told them, ‘Please don’t do that, because I’m gay.'”
The result of her outspokenness, Ms. Donadello said, was swift and merciless. “Everyone looked horrified,” she said. No longer included in conversation or welcome at meals, she plunged into depression. Medication did not help. With her emotional health deteriorating, Ms. Donadello moved into an adult community nearby that caters to gay men and lesbians.
“I felt like I was a pariah,” she said, settled in her new home. “For me, it was a choice between life and death.”
However if Pilgrim Homes are banned from discriminating against LGBTs, according to the wishes of their target clientèle – conservative Christians – then so would gay-only care homes be banned from discriminating against elderly people with religious homophobia, against the wishes of their target clientèle. This would not be a problem for wealthier elderly LGBTs who can afford more expensive care homes that don’t rely on local and/or national government funding and so are effectively exempt from local government rules, however for poorer LGBTs this could leave them without an alternative to a “non-discriminatory” care home that could (and almost definitely will) see them living alongside homophobic residents.
How many LGBTs would want to end up living in a care home alongside (and possibly even run by) people who believe that we are “a worthless piece of shit and the cause of untold woes and problems, the harbinger of even worst things to come” – as Peterson described the attitude of many conservative Christians in his recent blog? (also posted on PHB here) In some respects a little discrimination may not be such a bad thing.