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'Unacceptable harassment' on LGBTQ+ community persisting, Dáil hears ahead of Dublin Pride

In a statement ahead of Dublin Pride, the Minister for Equality said trans people in particular continue to experience discrimination and abuse.

'Trans love', a mural on George's St in Dublin
'Trans love', a mural on George's St in Dublin
Image: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

Updated Jun 23rd 2022, 4:36 PM

EQUALITY MINISTER RODERIC O’Gorman has acknowledged the “increasingly vitriolic” attacks on the LGBTQ+ community in Ireland, particularly the transgender community, who have to hear “their very existence debated” in public discourse.

In a statement in the Dáil ahead of Dublin Pride this weekend, O’Gorman said that Ireland has become “a proud, progressive and modern nation that supports and cherishes all people equally.

“When I was in school, there was absolutely no concept, no chance that I’d come out in school. And now whenever I go to most of our schools in Dublin 15, or indeed around the country, you see the pride flag flying.”

0111 Roderic O Gorman Source: RollingNews.ie

But, he added, LGBTQ+ people “continue to face significant barriers to full participation in public life.

“They do not always feel safe in public spaces. They continue to experience unacceptable levels of harassment, violence and discrimination. LGBTI plus people also face particular health issues.”

He said while he welcomed the opportunity to reflect on how much Ireland has changed for the better for the LGBTQ+ community, “we also have to recognise the struggles that many in the LGBTQ+ community continue to face – particularly, right now, those in the trans community.

Trans people “too often hear in public discourse their very existence debated”, the minister added.

O’Gorman has committed to banning “so-called conversion therapy” as outlined in the Programme for Government.

O’Gorman’s department has commissioned research on the experiences of people who have been subject to conversion therapy, which he said should be completed in August.

“Conversion therapy is something that doesn’t happen hugely in this country,” he said. “But it does happen. I’ve met with young people who have experienced it, and when it happens, its impact can be absolutely devastating.”

‘Still some stigma

Several Opposition politicians concurred that Ireland is a much better place for the LGBTQ+ community than it was in the past, but members of that community still struggle.

Sinn Féin TD Kathleen Funchion said that coming out in a small, rural community was still difficult for some.

The Carlow-Kilkenny TD said: “We have grown a lot but there is still sometimes some stigma and it can be very difficult.

“It can be particularly difficult to access really crucial supports around sexual health services – maybe some GPs, they might be kind of more old fashioned in the in their approach.”

Labour’s Aodhán Ó Riordáin and Social Democrat Cian O’Callaghan, both TDs for Dublin Bay North, referenced the murder of Declan Flynn in Fairview Park in 1982, which sparked Ireland’s LGBTQ+ pride movement.

Ó Riordáin compared his own childhood, during which Flynn was murdered, to that of his daughter, saying he took her to a pride shop and “decked her out” for the parade.

However, O’Callaghan, who was Ireland’s first openly gay mayor, said that recent attacks on the LGBTQ+ community have reminded him of Declan Flynn.

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Plinth politics 006 Cian O'Callaghan Source: Leah Farrell

“LGBTQI+ people are questioning how comfortable they feel being visible.”

LGBTQ+ radio station

The remarks come as Ireland’s first radio station for the LGBTQ+ community, Pride Vibes, is launched. The station includes a programme of music, conversations and documentaries to inform, educate and entertain listeners.

The online station was developed by radio group Wireless Ireland as a collaboration between LGBTQ+ organisations, including Dublin Pride and Gay Community News

Presenter Thomas Crosse said in a press statement: “Now more than ever it’s important for us to have a voice, to shout who we are and to march for those who can’t.

“Pride Vibes has been fantastic for all of us in the LGBTQIA+ community and our allies with open, honest conversations as well as playing the best music as we get ready to march this Saturday on the streets of Dublin.”

Fellow presenter Kate Brennan Harding said: “Pride is an important time to gather and find our colourful tribe, to unite in solidarity and to show people like us that we are living bright, vivid and powerful lives. It has been something that has given me so much comfort and empowerment over my 23 years attending Pride.”

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