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New policy to make direct provision 'less isolating' for LGBT+ residents

It comes after pressure to make the system more welcoming for LGBT+ people.

Shutterstock/Wut_Moppie
Shutterstock/Wut_Moppie

A NEW POLICY will aim to make direct provision centres a safer and “less isolating” place for LGBT+ people.  

The measure will include transgender accommodation options for residents.

Equality Minister Roderic O’Gorman said it was part of an ongoing reform of operations in the International Protection Accommodation Service (IPAS) for asylum seekers.

It is part of a series of changes to place the welfare of all IPAS residents, including LGBT+ residents, to ensure all new protection applicants are “accommodated and supported in a way that fully takes into account the many diverse” needs encountered among new arrivals to Ireland.

Making the announcement, O’Gorman said he had heard from LGBT+ residents about the specific difficulties that they had experienced in Ireland’s direct provision system.

“As we work to end direct provision, it is vital that the dignity, safety and wellbeing of all International Protection applicants is upheld, particularly where they may have unique vulnerabilities,” he added.

The measure comes following continued pressure focused on treatment of residents in direct provision, with responsibility transferring from the Department of Justice to the Department of Children, Disability, Equality and Integration last year. 

High-profile cases have shown up some of the difficulties of the system for residents of LGBT+ backgrounds, including that of Sylvia Tukula, a transgender woman in her 30s who was living at an all-male centre in Galway at the time of her death.

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A local LGBT+ group had expressed frustration at the time that while they had been assured by State representatives following her death that they would be notified once burial arrangements were made, Tukula was buried alone in a so-called “pauper’s funeral”. 

The new policy will aim to ensure LGBT+ applicants will not “feel in any way isolated”, with their accommodation a safe space, the minister said. 

“Central to the development of the new policy will be a listening phase – we need to hear from LGBTI+ applicants themselves, their advocates and the NGOs working in the field, on how best to develop this new policy.”

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