Transgender Refugees Must Be Guaranteed Accommodation Choice, Say Campaigners

Campaigners are calling for transgender refugees in direct provision centres to be granted accommodation that matches their gender identity.

David Stanton has been told transgender refugees need choice for accomodation

This follows a government statement saying that such requests from refugees are approved “in so far as is possible.”

Last month, it was reported that a transgender woman from Cameroon was found dead in the men’s wing of a direct provision centre for refugees in Galway.

The woman, known as Sylva, was thought to have fallen ill while in direct provision, according to the Department of Justice. A spokesman for the department said that reviews of all requests were made “taking account of a resident’s particular needs on a case-by-case basis.”

The spokesman continued, “The department is committed to ongoing reviews of any new policy requirements.”

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire, Sinn Féin’s justice spokesman, said that accommodation matching the self-identified gender of refugees in direct provision should be guaranteed by the state. Ó Laoghaire called on the government to open an investigation into Sylva’s case.

Ó Laoghaire said, “We have a responsibility to those that flee their home nations in fear of persecution that we offer them a safe secure place that embraces their identities.”

The Sinn Féin TD continued, “While I don’t know the full details of the case. It’s been reported that the trans woman who tragically passed away this year in Galway had requested to move from the all-male facility. I will be requesting that the department and the Reception and Integration Agency examine this case and review if they are truly meeting the needs of those LGBTQI in direct provision.

Sylva was known to be a campaigner for the transgender community. The Irish Refugee Council expressed their “deepest condolences to her family and friends.”

Since Sylva’s death, there have been calls on the government to take up action to end direct provision.

Green Party spokeswoman for equality Una Power argued that everyone should have the right to self-determine their gender identity under Irish law.

Power explained, “This woman, who was already in a vulnerable position seeking asylum, had her gender denied by the direct provision system. We cannot continue to allow a system where some people are afforded their legal rights and some are not.”

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