An Intersectional Approach to Homelessness: Discrimination and Criminalization

19 Marq. Ben. & Soc. Welfare L. Rev, 1 (2018).

19 Pages Posted: 5 Apr 2017 Last revised: 18 Apr 2018

See all articles by Alice Giannini

Alice Giannini

University of Bologna, Faculty of Law

Date Written: November 12, 2016


The purpose of this essay is to address discrimination against homeless people. First of all, the theory of intersectionality will be explained and then applied as a method of analysis. The complexity of defining homelessness will be tackled, focusing on the difficulties encountered when approaching this concept. Notions such as protected ground and immutability of personal characteristics will be discussed. Then, an intersectional approach to homelessness will be outlined. Different cases settled by the Supreme Court of Canada will be used to support this approach. Intersectional discrimination is a rather new theory which has not yet been applied by many courts and tribunals but Canada has proven to be a vanguard in this area. For this reason, Canadian case law has been chosen as the main example in this research. Phenomena of stereotyping, prejudices and social profiling connected to homelessness will be described. In addition, an inquiry on homelessness cannot be conducted without looking at the representation different minority groups within the homeless population and therefore this aspect will be shortly dealt with. To continue with, different laws and other legal sources concerned with criminalizing specific conducts against public order will be analyzed applying the outlined intersectional method. In specific, this work will concentrate on quality of life regulations and anti-homeless regulations. What the author will argue is that, once it is established that homelessness is a ground worthy of protection, this kind of legislations results in direct and indirect discrimination. In conclusion, the arguments in favor of including homelessness or social condition as a ground of discrimination will be laid out, with reference to Canadian, European and international law sources. Due to the broadness of the topic, this essay does not aim at being a comprehensive study but rather at trying to answer these questions: how can we consider homelessness as a ground of discrimination? What are the most common ways in which this distinctive kind of discrimination is perpetuated?

Keywords: homeless, homelessness, discrimination, equality, intersectionality

Suggested Citation

Giannini, Alice, An Intersectional Approach to Homelessness: Discrimination and Criminalization (November 12, 2016). 19 Marq. Ben. & Soc. Welfare L. Rev, 1 (2018)., Available at SSRN: or

Alice Giannini (Contact Author)

University of Bologna, Faculty of Law ( email )


Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics