The LGBT+ Garda Sectoral Working Group has issued a statement assuring the LGBTQ+ community that they have been working closely with the An Garda Síochána (AGS) following the arrests of several men in Dublin during the summer.
The Working Group which is comprised of eight LGBTQ+ organisations from across the country was launched in October 2019. It was formed as a consultation group ahead of the Garda Diversity & integration Strategy 2019-2021. Since then, the Group has remained in place to oversee the implementation of the strategy.
The statement begins, “The LGBT+ Garda Sectoral Working Group wishes to acknowledge the concerns of the LGBT+ community relating to a Garda operation in Dublin city-centre during the summer. We wish to reassure the community that while not publicly commenting until now, we have been busy working proactively to address those concerns.”
During the summer, a number of men were arrested for sexual misconduct in the public bathrooms of Marks and Spencer’s department store on Mary’s Street in Dublin.
Whilst the LGBTQ+ community are not the only ones to part-take in sexual acts in public, the historical criminalisation of gay, bisexual men and Trans men has been disproportionate.
Keen to highlight this fact, the statement continues, “Members of the Working Group recently met with senior Gardai to raise those community concerns directly – concerns very much amplified by a dark legacy of criminalisation (for which the Irish State offered an official apology to the LGBTQ+ community in 2018).
It continues by drawing attention to the current dangers to the LGBTQ+ community. “The importance of ensuring that hard-won trust isn’t eroded was highlighted – all the more important in the context of an alarming rise in often violent homophobic and anti-LGBT+ hate crime, which continues to be vastly under-reported.”
According to the statement, the consultation process has garnered a number of results including a commitment by the Gardaí to publicly address the community’s concerns around the operation in question.
The Working group also stressed the importance of applying a ‘best practice’ policy – one which they have developed and which has been informed by international best practice.
The statement outlines this policy to be: “consultation with LGBT+ community groups & AGS Diversity Liaison Officer ahead of any planned operations; a staged approach to any such operation; a uniformed policing response; comprehensive training of Gardai in human rights/diversity issues.”
The statement concludes, “The LGBT+ Garda Sectoral Working Group will issue a further public response when AGS have issued their own public statement on the concerns and issues raised.”
The LGBT+ Garda Sectoral Working Group comprises of; Gay Project, Dublin LGBTQ Pride, Dundalk Outcomers, LGBT Ireland, LINC, NXF (National LGBT Federation), TENI (Transgender Equality Network Ireland), and HIV Ireland.
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