Equality Minister Roderic O’Gorman has announced a new policy that will aim to make Direct Provision centres a safer and “less isolating” place for LGBTQ+ people. The new measure will include accommodation options for transgender residents.
Minister O’ Gorman has said it was part of an ongoing reform of operations in the International Protection Accommodation Service (IPAS) for asylum seekers. He had also heard from LGBTQ+ residents about the difficulties that they had experienced in Ireland’s Direct Provision centres.
“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 in the announcement.
It was reported back in February that Direction Provision centres will be closed by 2024, to be replaced by an international protection system.
LGBTQ+ groups in Ireland such as AMACH! LGBT+ Galway continue to demand better 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.
Over the past number of years, many cases have arisen on the many difficulties that LGBTQ+ residents of Direct Provision face. Including the tragic case of Sylva Tukula, a transgender woman in her 30s who was living at an all-male centre in Galway when she sadly passed away.
Although the Department of Justice and Equality made it known to Gardaí on a number of occasions that her body should be released to friends for burial, An Garda Síochána told the coroner nine months after her death that they had exhausted all options to find a next of kin. She was then buried without her friends or local community being informed.
Following Sylva’s death, AMACH! LGBT+ expressed their frustration at the fact that at the time they had been assured by State representatives that they would be notified once burial arrangements were made, Tukula was buried alone in a so-called “pauper’s funeral”.
According to reports, the new policy will aim to ensure LGBTQ+ applicants will not “feel in any way isolated”, with their accommodation, Minister O’Gorman had 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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