Hicham Lamchaali, a gay asylum seeker originally from Morocco, spoke last night on RTÉ News on how joining the Dublin Devils football team has been an invaluable lifeline.
Hicham explained: “It is illegal in my country to be gay or part of any LGBT community. They feel like you are a shame if you are gay or lesbian or bisexual. They feel you should be killed.” Hicham wasn’t able to tell friends or family he was gay due to fear of reprisal.
Even after Hicham came to Ireland in 2016, he still had to keep his sexuality private because of the Direct Provision system. Gay asylum seekers in Direct Provision can find themselves in the unfortunate situation where they can actually be housed with people from the homophobic communities they were fleeing in the first place.
Meet the gay asylum seeker who has found a lifeline in the gay-friendly football team, Dublin Devils. pic.twitter.com/xnb2CFc9nl
— RTÉ News (@rtenews) February 26, 2019
Hicham was so depressed with the situation, he told a doctor he was considering committing suicide. “What is the point? There isn’t a life for me here,” he told her. The doctor encouraged him to join Dublin Devils, a gay and inclusive football club that welcomes anyone who loves football. “She asked me to show who I am without any fear.”
John McAree, the chairperson for the club explained: “In Hicham’s circumstances I think it’s vitally important that he has something like this to be involved in. He is always telling us we are like a family here to him.”
Hicham elaborates: “I can’t even find the words to say what they mean to me. They are my friends. You can be free to tell who you are dating. Who you are without any fear.
At a recent learning exchange held in Dublin’s Outhouse to discuss helping LGBT+ asylum seekers, ACATHI stressed the importance of peer support and personal contact for asylum seekers in order to combat isolation and improve mental health.
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