Minister for Children Katherine Zappone, along with her department officials have highlighted the impact of the lack of public gender-neutral services on the homeless population to the Oireachtas committee.
Coming before the committee to discuss LGBT+ issues, officials from the Department of Children told of how existing facilities do not cater to the transgender community, which is negatively affecting those of whom are experiencing homelessness.
Department official Linda O’Sullivan has claimed that “there is a dearth of gender-neutral facilities in homeless services”, and called for research to be undertaken in order to address “the root causes of some of the high incidences of homelessness in the LGBT+ community”.
Many young members of the LGBT+ experience or have been threatened by homelessness on account of at-home disputes concerning their gender identity and/or sexual orientation.
However, quantitive research on homelessness in Ireland has not provided comprehensive statistics on LGBT+ people. Focus Ireland’s contribution to the LGBTI Youth Strategy cited “a lack of understanding of the issues of LGBT+ homeless youth”.
Transgender Equality Network Ireland (TENI) has also identified a lack of services for homeless transgender people, leaving people without safety or support:
“Homelessness services need to be accessible for everyone, which for trans people can mean inclusion in either gender-segregated or gender-neutral services, depending on their own circumstances.”
Both Sinn Féin Senator Fintan Warfield and department official Olive McGovern have echoed these findings, calling for a need for research and gathering of data on the issue, citing US and British studies which had found that LGBT+ people made up a significant portion of the homeless population.
Ireland is one of the few countries in Europe without homeless accommodation specifically catering to the LGBT+ community. The housing crisis disproportionally affects the marginalised in society and this is evident in the systemic and statistical disregard for the transgender and non-binary homeless population.
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