New advocacy group QUASA on a mission to combat sexual assault in queer Irish spaces

QUASA was sparked by a conversation on Twitter around the #metoo movement and Ireland's LGBTQ+ scene.

QUASA

A new group aiming to shine a light on sexual assault in Ireland’s LGBTQ+ community, Queers United Against Sexual Assault, (QUASA) has been launched.

QUASA was set up by a group of friends in response to a Twitter thread from one of their founding members which spoke about “predatory behaviour” which they say is “rampant within our community”.

According to a 2016 report, LGBTQ+ victims of sexual violence take longer to report the incident and face added difficulties in reaching out for support.

The report also found these survivors disclosed higher levels of multiple incidents of sexual violence than heterosexual survivors (26%, compared to 15%).

QUASA believes in the creation of safe spaces within clubs, bars and intrinsically queer settings by combatting sexual assault alongside dangerous and toxic behaviour within the queer community in the hopes that the future of queer youth in Ireland can access these spaces without fear.

“We want clubs, bars, queer spaces and research institutions and the work they do to be safe, welcoming, open and accessible to all, especially to the most vulnerable members of our community. We reject the idea that queer spaces are unable to rectify, combat and inform on these issues and demand that the aforementioned spaces champion education and accountability within the spaces,” founding member Dan said.

Speaking to GCN QUASA spoke about the particular difficulties raised as a result of the pandemic:

“We recognised that we were in a unique situation due to COVID-19 to be able to assess, examine and rectify the damage that has been done in our community by years of unaddressed sexual assault in clubs, bars and queer spaces. So the four founding members came together to try and brainstorm ways that we could combat not just sexual assault but also the toxicity of queer spaces as they exist in the country – thus QUASA was born!

“We are currently collating and spreading lots of information and education regarding sexual assault, sexual health and trying to liaise with publications, podcasts and outlets in an attempt to make everyone aware of our campaign. ”

Speaking on how they hope to affect positive change, they said “listening and learning from victims, being aware of your surroundings, supporting the fight for change in queer spaces, fighting for the maintaining and support of queer support systems (GMHS, ActOut, BeLonG To, TENI etc) and supporting the most vulnerable members of [our] community is going to be crucial.”

Pulling from their common ground as activists in education and research, QUASA has developed the following goals:

  1. An end to sexual assault in clubs, bars and spaces that are scoped to be queer-specific;
  2. A raised awareness and education to the enormous IBSA problem within the queer community;
  3. A sexual health and education syllabus that is inclusive of young queer people;
  4. Protection and provision of sexual health services, with a recognition of the crucial role they play in the safety of LGBTQ+ people across the country;
  5. An implementation of a nationally recognised “Ask for Annie” scheme, wherein organisers, bar-staff, security staff et al. can accurately and safely react in the best interest of the patron when approached about a possible case of sexual assault.;
  6. An increase in An Garda Síochana resources relating to hate crime engagement;
  7. An end to racist, xenophobic and discriminatory treatment of minorities within queer spaces;
  8. An environment that actively works against oppression and for inclusion;
  9. The supporting of queer magazines, creative institutions and centres with the aim of platforming and amplifying queer voices;
  10. The reform of mental health services and the provision of queer-centric mental health services.

If you want to support QUASA, you can follow us on Instagram: @quasaireland

If you have been affected by this story, or if you need to talk, you can contact the Rape Crisis 24 Hour Helpline at 1800 778888 and the LGBT Ireland Helpline at 1890 929 539.

© 2021 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

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