LGBT+ Asylum Seekers In Ireland's Direct Provision System Need Protection, Says Senator

Sinn Féin Senator Márie Devine raised questions in the Seanad today about the treatment of LGBT+ asylum seekers in Direct Provision

Direct Provision LGBTs need protection says Senator

“LGBT+ people in Direct Provision are terrified of coming out, they’re terrified of being who they are.”

Senator Máire Devine (pictured above) today brought up the need for the Minister for Justice and Equality to outline how the specific needs of LGBT+ individuals who are currently living in the Direct Provision service are being met.

Direct Provision is the system in which migrants to Ireland are housed when they declare their status as asylum seekers. Individuals live for three years and longer in the system.

Senator Devine raised questions about the persecution of LGBT+ people by other members of their communities in Direct Provision. LGBT+ people who declare their status as asylum seekers are often fleeing persecution in their countries of origin, only to experience bullying from some members of the same communities they fled in the first place.

Senator Devine raised the point that LGBT+ asylum seekers are often forced back into the closet, for fear of bullying and ostracisation in the Direct Provision system.

“LGBT+ people [in Direct Provision] are terrified of coming out, they’re terrified of being who they are… if they do announce that they are LGBT+, the reaction is fairly vicious, there’s the bullying, the persecution, the sending to Coventry and probably a lot more than that,” she said. “There’s fear of physical attacks and that has raised its ugly head at times.”

In response to Senator Devine’s question the Junior Minister David Stanton said that the Department of Justice and Equality is currently concluding the development of a set of standards in Direct Provision, which will “place a requirement on managers and front-line staff to receive training across a wide range of areas including specific training in respect of the possible needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people residing in an accommodation centre.”

Mr Stanton said that if people came forward to the managers of their Direct Provision centres and spoke of bullying that it would be dealt with.

In response to this Senator Devine said: “He’s asking them to be whistleblowers without any protection whatsoever, and the response to whistleblowing, we know in this country from the past, has been extremely slow and very negative on people’s lives. So, he’s asking somebody incarcerated in a small community to whistleblow and then go back to that community and share that room, share that space…”

“I brought it up this morning to really get the minister to be proactive as opposed to sitting on their laurels and allowing persecution to continue in our own country.”

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