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LGBT+ groups set to meet with gardaí over recent homophobic attacks in Dublin

With Pride taking place in two weeks, the groups want to ensure that safety of people is paramount.
Jun 10th 2022, 6:00 AM 13,696 0

REPRESENTATIVES OF LGBT+ groups are set to meet with gardaí next week to discuss recent homophobic attacks in Dublin.

The groups have reached out to the gardaí and plans are being made for a meeting in the coming days.

Oisín O’Reilly, who is two months into his new role as CEO of Outhouse on Dublin’s Capel St, which is an LGBT+ community resource centre and café, told The Journal that there has been a “very open conversation” among community leadership over the last number of weeks in the wake of recent incidents. In the past two days, they decided to reach out to the gardaí and plans are now underway for group representatives to meet with gardaí next week. 

In May, GCN reported on a lesbian couple who were the victims of a homophobic attack in Dublin, which led to them suffering physical injuries.

The previous month, Evan Somers was attacked in Dublin city centre, which left him hospitalised with serious injuries. 

Evan – who is a member of Emerald Warriors RFC, an LGBT+ inclusive rugby team based in Dublin – said at the time that the incident shows that more needs to be done to tackle hate-related violence towards the LGBT community.

Also in April were the murders of two gay men, Michael Snee and Aidan Moffitt, in Sligo. A man has been charged in relation to their deaths. 

June is Pride month, where the country and capital celebrate the diversity, history and impact of LGBT+ people. O’Reilly said the upcoming meeting is particularly important as the first Pride event in two years is due to take place in the coming weeks. 

He said that last weekend was the first weekend in months where he didn’t hear of an incident of homophobic violence happening in Dublin. “It shows how frequently homophobic violence is taking place within the city,” he said, saying it makes him and others feel “deeply worried”.

“Outhouse is a safe space for the community – we were born out of a need for safety for the community,” he said. “I am seeing fear, anxiety, worry – that sense of ‘can I wear a pride flag, will that make me a target?’” But he said that recent attacks are “set against a backdrop of rising crime and physical crime, and assaults and otherwise, generally in urban centres”.

“Some of what is happening is definitely homophobic in nature – someone might be carrying a symbol of the community, with someone noting that while carrying out the crime. And some of it is LGBT people who happen to be a victim of crime that is not related to their identity. My concern as someone working and leading in the queer community is our community has a perception the streets are unsafe.”

He wrote to the gardaí on this issue yesterday and said received a response from the Chief Superintendent at Store St about a meeting with him and other other community members next week, along with representatives from Dublin policing districts and other relevant garda representatives. 

He said his main question for the gardaí “is what are you going to do to tackle [this]“. He said he is quite confident that if someone is the victim of a homophobic crime and reports it to the gardaí it will be investigated. But he said: “This is about the prevention of crime in the first place, and how are we going to create a climate of safety for LGBT+ people, women, members of the Traveller and Roma communities, and other minorities?”

He said it is a question of public safety, particularly in city areas. “If those of us who live as a minority can be more exposed to violent crimes than others, my bigger societal worry is if we don’t tackle this now, when will it get tackled?”

The national representative in the gardaí’s National Diversity and Inclusion Forum is Paula Fagan of LGBT Ireland, while an LGBT sectoral group is also made up of representations of organisations who communicate with the gardaí on LGBT issues. 

O’Reilly said while he wouldn’t say there has been inaction on the part of the gardaí, who do liaise with community groups, he would like to see more proactivity.

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This proactivity from the gardaí in contacting groups was evident, he said, in the wake of the murders of Michael Snee and Aidan Moffitt in Sligo.

“I know there are amazing people inside the [Garda] organisation who are doing their absolute best. I do think there is something more needs to be done on the eve of Pride,” said O’Reilly.

However, he isn’t worried about the weekend of Pride, which is a well-established event where the gardaí have an “exceptionally good” policing plan, but more for the weeks around it. 

“The community hadn’t had the chance in two years to come together. We are only in the last eight weeks seeing the community able to reconnect,” he said. He said that Pride is “so important for the health and wellbeing of individuals”, particularly as some of those attending might be teenagers who are living with homophobic parents or guardians, or may be supported but setting off on a journey of discovery.

“[If this is] set against a backdrop of fear it might be holding people back,” he said. “There’s a cost to that that in many ways is unquantifiable.”

O’Reilly also noted that every garda station has a diversity officer, so people “shouldn’t suffer in silence” if they have been the victim of a homophobic crime. 

The national LGBT+ helpline is 1800 929 539.

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Aoife Barry

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