Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Katherine Zappone, has apologised to the LGBT+ people of Ireland for the slow response and lack of action taken by the government in resolving equality issues surrounding “family and parenting”. Despite new laws being put in place in 2015 to ensure same-sex parents would have equal rights to heterosexual couples, several sections of the reforms have yet to be enacted in late 2019, with other legislation relating to adoption and surrogacy also remaining unpublished by the Irish government to this day.
Zappone explained that this lack of action is unacceptable and that it was “particularly distressing to her” that the matter had not been completed yet. The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs stated that over the past few weeks she has met with with the Taoiseach, Tánaiste, and staff from the Department of Justice in attempts to pressure the government and finally resolve the issue
Speaking on the topic to The Times, training manager at LGBT Ireland, Collette O’Regan, commented that the situation at hand is “quite a complex issue” for same-sex parents and families and said she believes the “amount of work was underestimated by the government.”
She went on to explain that; “[They] thought the government would have known all that. When they [the government] started work on it, it became clear that while they had work done on some areas, they hadn’t even started work on other areas, like surrogacy or fertility clinics.”
Yesterday was the launch of Ireland’s National LGBTI+ Inclusion Strategy, which strives to promote inclusion, protection of rights and improvement of the quality of life of LGBT+ folk. More specifically the strategy sets out to ensure that same-sex parents are treated equally in the eyes of the law which includes the implementing of certain parts of the Children and Family relationship Act as well as other parts of the Adoption Act.
Katherine Zappone spoke at the launch alongside Collette O’Regan and Dr Kathy Walsh. Dr Walsh spoke out about the “significant underreporting” of LGBT+ hate crimes due to the general consensus within the community that they are not “protected by the general body of the gardaí” and that many LGBT+ couples still feel unsafe even holding hands in public.
While O’Regan praised the strategy, she was quick to point out that more work was needed on the health section of the document saying; “We feel really positive about this strategy. One of the areas could have been fleshed out a little more was the health section, which we feel is sexual health focused. Of course, there are a lot of health issues in the community. Mental health, physical and wellbeing, LGBT plus people tend to be less engaged in sport and we have higher levels of mental ill-health.”
After the launch of the new strategy yesterday the Minister for Justice and Equality, Charlie Flanagan, also apologised saying he is extremely remorseful and regrets that “Ireland is something of a cold place for many of our LGBTI community” but hopes this strategy including over 100 actions with a time limit of two years to be implemented is a starting point.
As well as equalling the playing field for same-sex parents the strategy will also investigate instances of conversion therapy in Ireland after a bill introduced to ban the practice, which the government has also been extremely slow to act.
The hope is that this new strategy will force the government to implement the changes being demanded in a timely manner thus creating a safer and more equal Ireland for its LGBT+ citizens.
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