Newly Released Emails Show Former GLEN Head Accused HSE of "institutional homophobia"

Emails released under freedom of information legislation show how a former GLEN director accused the HSE of “institutionalisted homophobia” over funding cuts.

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The Times UK (paywall) reports that an email sent by former GLEN director Áine Duggan to the upper management in the within the HSE’s mental health sector stated that a HSE official had told her gay rights groups were no longer a funding priority following 2015 marriage referendum.

In the emails, which have been released under freedom of information legislation, Duggan said the conversation took place after she found GLEN’s funding was to be cut.

“I understand from that conversation that the HSE’s position is that there are no LGBTI issues that need to be addressed, in a post- marriage referendum society, and that funding to LGBTI organisations is to be reviewed, with the indication given that GLEN’s funding would be cut,” she wrote in an email on February 16.

Duggan at the GLEAN Summit (April 17)

Duggan – who stepped down as executive director of GLEN after just six months, citing “governance issues” – claimed that HSE officials has agreed privately that “lack of a leader in any unit of the HSE whose remit is LGBTI issues and services” was an issue, and that this “position gives the impression of what can sometimes be an institutionalised homophobia, as has been witnessed in institutions in other jurisdictions that have achieved same sex marriage rights”.

GLEN’s board decided to make arrangements for “an orderly wind-up” of its affairs after a report found it was “no longer viable given the challenges it is facing” in the wake of Duggan’s disclosures, in May, 2017.

The report by former seanator Jill van Turnhout stated that the use of GLEN credit cards by staff for personal transactions amounted to “extremely poor practice”.

According to van Turnhout’s report, at critical junctures GLEN failed to heed or fully understand the warning signs in terms of corporate governance. “The environment for not-for-profits is ever changing. What was standard practice for many organisations 20, 10 or even five years ago is no longer acceptable,” van Turnhout wrote.

A separate report into the financial administration of the charity “did not find any evidence of misappropriation of State or donor funds or any fraudulent activity taking place”.

The HSE confirmed to The Times that the email exchange had taken place and that the issues raised by Duggan were addressed with the member of staff in question.

“We can also confirm that this conversation raised concerns, and that when these concerns were brought to our attention, we addressed the issues with the member of staff,” said a HSE source.

“The HSE wishes to categorically state that it is not the position of the HSE mental health division that there are no LGBT+ issues that need to be addressed, in a post-marriage referendum society.”

© 2017 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

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