LGBTQ Individuals And Their Vulnerability to Human Trafficking

Watch this video created by the Los Angeles LGBT Center: “Parents Abandon Him for Being Gay; What Happens Next Is Too Common”
Read this article on LGBT survivors of human trafficking by Watermark Online:

Human trafficking is a big concern and issue within the LGBTQ community. To begin with, because of homophobia and discrimination, LGBTQ youth are regularly victimized and bullied by their peers, ostracized by family members and their communities, and are more likely to have lower self-esteem, higher stress, anxiety, depression and a higher suicide rate than their heterosexual counterparts, setting the groundwork for them to become victims of human trafficking at a young age. According to the National Coalition for the Homeless, LGBTQ youth are roughly 7 times more likely to be victims of sexual violence than heterosexual youth. Although LGBTQ individuals make up about 3-5% of the population, it is estimated that almost 40% of the runaway population consists of LGBTQ youth. Overall, 1 in 3 homeless youth will end up being recruited by a pimp or john within 48 hours of running away, and 59% of LGBTQ homeless youth have been sexually exploited compared to 33% of heterosexual homeless youth.

Homeless LGBTQ youth are 3 times more likely to participate in survival sex than their heterosexual counterpart runaways. Survival sex is when an individual engages in prostitution due to their extreme need. LGBTQ youth who engage in survival sex do it to trade sex for food, a place to sleep, clothing, drugs and other basic needs. It is common for a night of survival sex for need to turn into a human sex trafficking situation.

In 2014, the U.S. Department of State wrote a report titled, “Trafficking in Persons Report 2014”, which highlighted the vulnerability of LGBT individuals to human trafficking. In this report, they state that as of 2013, “nearly 80 countries had laws that criminalize people on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.” These individuals face elevated threats of violence, discrimination in education, healthcare, employment, and in their communities. These anti-LGBTQ laws assist in making LGBTQ youth more vulnerable to human trafficking.

Within the U.S., a new senate bill would protect LGBTQ youth from homeless and trafficking. It is called S. 262: Runaway and Homeless Youth and Trafficking Prevention Act. It was initially proposed in October of 2014, and was reintroduced on January 27, 2015. It was assigned to committee on the same day. This bill will hopefully protect all runaway and homeless youth from human trafficking.

  •  Sources:

The National Coalition for the Homeless:

Human Trafficking Search:

Administration for Children and Families:

U.S. Department of State: