IT is sad and a terrible waste of potential that young people are having to leave rural communities because of their sexual orientation, a Government minister said yesterday.
Minister of Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs Pat Carey was speaking at the launch of a national programme to address the needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people (LGBT).
The programme — LGBT Diversity, is concerned that people, particularly in rural areas, experienced marked isolation and discrimination because of their sexual orientation.
Mr Carey said he was very impressed with the programme that seeks to mobilise individuals, organisations and groups to advocate effectively on behalf of LGBT people.
The programme is a coordinated response, by local and national organisations, to further develop understanding of gender identity and sexual orientation.
“Let’s be honest, Irish society has not always been as tolerant and supportive of gay people as it should have been. This has been a particular issues in rural Ireland,” said Mr Carey.
Mr Carey said the timing of the launch was well timed, coming as it did after the passing of the Civil Partnership Bill. That historic event showed how far we have travelled when it comes to embracing diversity as a society, but it also gave us an opportunity to reflect on how far we still have to go,” he said.
LGBT Diversity programme manager Derek McDonnell said that despite the progress that had been made for LGBT people, many still found it difficult to be “out” and remain living in their communities.
“Many LGBT people migrate towards Dublin or other cities because they feel they cannot play a full role in the community in which they were born and raised,” he said.
LGBT Diversity, developed by five national and six local organisations, has placed a regional development worker in the north west, midlands and south east.
“Their main role will be to identify the needs of LGBT people and organisation in their region and to work with mainstream services to integrate these needs into their programmes.
“They will also assist in the set-up of support groups, facilitate awareness training and act as a conduit for information sharing,” said Mr McDonnell.
He said the programme was made possible with funding from Atlantic Philanthropies.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved