Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth Roderic O’Gorman said that passing hate crime legislation and having greater support for LGBTQ+ young people in school is “important” in light of the increase in violence and abuse against the community both on and offline.
On Monday, May 22, Minister O’Gorman attended the launch of Outhouse’s new five-year strategic plan, after which, he spoke to The Irish Times about the necessity of passing hate crime legislation, given that the LGBTQ+ community “continues to face challenges in terms of increased levels of hate speech online and attacks on members of the community across the country, with last week being a particularly vicious example of that.”
The Minister was referring to the attack that took place in Navan, where a teen was assaulted by a group of students, who also filmed the violence and posted the video online. Gardaí have deemed the episode a hate crime in their investigation.
“We know that people are attacked or their property is damaged for reasons linked to hate, and it’s important that the law and the punishment recognises that,” Minister O’Gorman said. He was referring to the Incitement to Violence or Hatred and Hate Offences Bill, which, if passed, will introduce aggravated versions of existing criminal offences where such offences are motivated by prejudice against a victim’s “protected characteristics”.
The bill overwhelmingly passed both stages in the Dáil last month and is now moving to the Seanad. Although no exact date for the Seanad debate has been set as of yet, it is expected to happen in June.
According to O’Gorman, the bill represents “a statement that Ireland as a country will not tolerate hate crimes or hate speech” at a time when the LGBTQ+ community is “at the receiving end of an unacceptably high level of abuse and violence”.
O’Gorman also spoke about how it is necessary to increase resources in schools to support LGBTQ+ youth. “The Minister for Education Norma Foley is working on the curriculum now, to ensure it recognises the diversity of children in our schools and equips teachers and parents to engage with that in a positive way that ensures all students feel supported in school,” he said.
The new hate crime legislation and its impact on the protection of LGBTQ+ people were also discussed at a meeting with Minister for Justice Simon Harris along with other key stakeholders on May 17. During the discussion, Minister Harris answered questions from LGBTQ+ organisations about what will be done to address the rising number of hate crimes in Ireland. Moreover, Chair of the Coalition Against Hate Crimes renewed calls for broader measures and a specific action plan to tackle the issue.
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