A LACK OF hate crime legislation has given Irish society a “permission to hate”, researchers have said.
The warning comes as Transgender Equality Network Ireland (TENI) launches a new report documenting 32 incidents of violence or discrimination against transgender people in Ireland.
The vast majority of these were verbal abuse or insults, but incidents of violence and sexual harassment were also recorded.
“Went to Pride for the first time, and then I went to the village area at Merrion Square. There were outdoor separate toilets so I queued and went into one of the toilets,” one respondent said, “the door was repeatedly kicked and the toilet rocked violently by a woman calling out ‘gay man’, ‘tranny’.
When I left there was lots of people there, no one said anything or did anything to help.
A 43-year-old lesbian trans woman reported being threatened with a sledge hammer by their neighbour, while a 51-year-old female suffered from depression, paranoia, and insomnia following a separate attack.
Speaking at a panel ahead of the report’s launch, Jennifer Schweppe, co-director of the Hate and Hostility research group at the University of Limerick, noted that Ireland is coming under increased pressure to introduce laws making such abuse a crime.
“Ireland is almost unique in western democracies in not having hate crime legislation.
The absence of such legislation has led to a situation where we as a society have given a ‘permission to hate’.
The report also highlights a mixed attitude towards reporting these crimes to gardaí. More than half said they had not for a range of reasons from fear to believing that nothing would be done.
Speaking ahead of the report’s launch today, Garda Superintendent Karl Heller advised anyone who experiences transphobic abuse to contact a local Garda station, to a local LGBT liaison officer or to contact the National LGBT Liaison Officer.
“Any crime against a member of the trans community is crime against wider society,” he said.
The report recommends more training for gardaí and the PSNI, to introduce hate crime legislation, and for the “value of trans and LGB communities nationwide” to be realised.