LGBTQI Communities and Effective Planning Practice

By Amelia Zavattaro.

Oxford Street, Sydney (Source: Sydney Your Say)

The current Marriage Equality Postal Plebiscite is a contemporary issue on many of our minds with significant personal meaning for many of us.

Accordingly, it’s prudent to consider the intersection between planning practice and the LGBTQI community beyond the lens of hetero-normative planning discourse. This intersection is often ignored in planning literature and in practice as LGBTQI issues are rarely considered in the public planning process. (Doan 2015, 1)

Professor Petra Doan, a foremost scholar in this area specialises in research pertaining to the global trend towards the demise of identified ‘queer spaces’. Doan ascertains that there is a reluctance in the planning profession to include people within the LGBTQI community as a stakeholder within planning decision making processes. As a result, there is a paucity of data in relation to planning for queer spaces. Doan contends that whether this resistance is the result of explicit heterosexist bias, mere silence or planners’ reluctance to engage with the LGBTQI population, the demise of identifiably queer spaces and neighbourhoods is becoming pervasive. (Doan 2015, 1)

So, what are some contemporary issues facing the LGBTQI community arising from planning practice?

Doan asks us to consider moving beyond the limitations of defining queer spaces as designated neighbourhoods and to view the population as more diverse and mobile than previously perceived. This enables planners to respect existing histories while understanding the nature of the community at large.

The broader issue of social equity in terms of gentrification is another key concern. As traditional queer spaces are gentrified, displacement results for both residents of these areas and existing LGBTQI related services. Once displacement of these services occurs, identifiers of safe and inclusive queer neighbourhoods are removed, rendering it difficult for additional services to enter the area.

The LGBTQI community comprises vulnerable minorities whose needs should be taken into account in planning decisions, especially decisions affecting key areas that feature services and businesses for the community.

Overall as planners, in order to improve communities and our built environments, we need to listen to the social environment around us to understand how the communities that make up our cities live, experience and desire to use spaces.

Finally, this article seeks to raise points asserted by contemporary literature to get us all thinking about how we and others feel safe and use the built space around us. For an in-depth discussion about the role of planning practice and LGBTQI communities, see Planning and LGBTQ Communities: The Need for Inclusive Queer Spaces, ed. Petra Doan (2015: Routledge).


Doan, P (ed), Planning and LGBTQ Communities: The Need for Inclusive Queer Spaces. 2015, Routledge


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