Irish LGBTQ+ Travellers and Roma face widespread discrimination, report shows

The peer-to-peer research project unveils the isolation, prejudice and racism experienced by LGBTQ+ Travellers and Roma.

People supporting LGBTQ+ Travellers and Roma marching down Dublin during Dublin Pride 2022.
Image: Twitter via @PaveePoint

A new peer-research report has been published by the National Action Group for LGBTI+ Traveller and Roma Rights highlighting the discrimination that the community endures.

The research entitled ‘Unveiling Inequality – Experiences of LGBTI+ Travellers & Roma’ was launched today, November 14, at a meeting at Outhouse, Dublin. The event included speeches from Senator Eileen Flynn and Dr Sarah Sartor, who was the lead researcher of the report.

The chairperson of the action group, Oein DeBhairdúin, welcomed the publication saying, “This report is a sobering reminder of the much required and forward steps needed towards achieving a more equal and safe society for LGBTI+ Travellers and Roma. As beautiful as the intersectionality of our identities can be, for most it is also a point of great fear and concern of safety with many of the spaces of support proving gravely insufficient or underdeveloped.”

Funded by the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC), the peer-research project found that LGBTQ+ Travellers and Roma experience high levels of harassment and serious mental health issues, and are disproportionally affected by homelessness. This statement is accompanied by some harrowing statistics, such as:

  • 39.1% have experienced homelessness.
  • 41.9% report experiencing some form of physical attack.
  • 93% have been verbally hurt.
  • 60% have experienced suicidal thoughts.
  • 32.6% have attempted suicide.
  • Only 11.1% of LGBTQ+ Travellers and Roma said they felt safe.

As well as this, the research also found that “fear of rejection or discrimination by their communities, and when accessing services, was prevalent for almost all of the research participants”. However, the report also positively “highlights experiences of great support from family and loved ones on their journeys.”

The National Action Group for LGBTI+ Traveller and Roma Rights suggested a number of things in the report to better the lives of community members, such as “ensuring greater representation of Traveller and Roma LGBTQ+ people in public awareness and education campaigns,” and having an “effective response to the serious mental health issues impacting LGBTQ+ Travellers and Roma nationally.”

Collette O’ Regan, a representative of the action group, commented, “if an LGBTQ+ Traveller or Roma doesn’t come to our spaces due to fear of racism, then we must be really concerned about this, and embarrassed. Every LGBTQ+ person needs to know they have a safe space in the LGBTQ+ community including our rainbow kin in our indigenous ethnic minority, as well as other ethnic minorities”.

With an estimate of potentially 4,000 Travellers on the island of Ireland who are LGBTQ+, the peer-research report delivers recommendations for their communities, the queer community and the wider society to become more inclusive of LGBTQ+ Travellers and Roma.

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