Homeless people are not cockroaches or vermin, they are human and have rights – Leilani Farha

Source: The Guardian

The most glaring violation of human rights is at a doorstep near you. The global stigma surrounding homeless people sees them treated like illegally parked cars

All over the world, homeless people are subject to criminal sanction, given tickets or forced out of city centres just for sleeping or eating. Photograph: Vadim Ghirda/AP

How is it that homelessness – one of the most egregious violations of human rights globally – can be so invisible?

The answer lies in the fact that we have done pretty much everything we can to erase homeless people from our sight and from our minds.

How governments, the media, and the affluent treat homeless people has a significant impact on how the rest of us view them and, ultimately, how homeless people view themselves. They have become a social group that, if not ignored completely, is faced with relentless vilification, discrimination, criminalisation and even hate crimes.

In many countries, homeless people who are engaged in the simple acts of eating and sleeping in the only spaces available to them – parks, public squares, or vacant lands – are subject to criminal sanction, given tickets (like illegally parked cars), and forcibly removed from city centres (also like illegally parked cars). Left to languish like garbage in a landfill on the periphery of society, they are rendered completely invisible. While this may be the preferred approach for some governments, it only cements stigmatisation and helps internalise discrimination against those who are homeless. Read more