The Manchester City Council has announced plans to build a retirement home for LGBTQ citizens, making the project the first of its kind in the United Kingdom.
According to the Independent, the retirement home is meant to be affordable to residents, and staff will be trained in LGBTQ matters. The home is still undergoing early planning stages, so official information about the home’s opening and location remain unannounced.
“People shouldn’t have to face the prospect as they get older of being surrounded by people who may not accept their sexuality or gender identity,” City Councillor Bev Craig, who leads the council on behalf of LGBTQ women, told the Independent. “Older people should never feel isolated by who they are, or who they love.”
While the retirement home wouldn’t be strictly LGBTQ (straight residents are welcome), the council hopes to host at least 51 percent queer residents.
The retirement home’s creation stems partly from research on LGBTQ aging. A report by the LGBT Foundation, which was commissioned by the Manchester City Council, stated that 55 percent of LGBTQ people believed that their identity would lead to negative treatment as they continued to grow older. LGBTQ people are also more likely to live single, alone, have no children, and fail to see family regularly as they age, too.
Manchester has a sizable senior citizen LGBTQ population as well, with the council reporting that 7,000 residents over 50 are LGBTQ. The city council believes that a retirement home project is badly needed, especially as senior citizen populations continue to increase.
“It is imperative that we move now to create the housing necessary to support older people and meet demand before it’s too late,” the council’s deputy leader, Bernard Priest, said in an official statement. “This scheme will provide that support for [a] group of people who would otherwise struggle to find the appropriate accommodation.”
In 2013, Sweden’s first LGBTQ retirement home, Regnbagen, opened its doors to the public. For the home’s residents, criminalization of LGBTQ life is all too familiar. It is for United Kingdom’s LGBTQ residents, too: Throughout the 19th and for most of the 20th century, male United Kingdom residents could be prosecuted under laws prohibiting sexual activity between men.
It wasn’t until the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act 2000 and Sexual Offences Act 2003 that double standards for same-sex relations were removed from U.K. law.