Majority of LGBTI community still fear attacks, report finds

Six-in-10 people in Ireland's lesbian and gay community avoid holding hands with their partners in public out of fear of being assaulted or threatened.

Six-in-10 people in Ireland's lesbian and gay community avoid holding hands with their partners in public out of fear of being assaulted or threatened.

That's according to the largest international LGBTI+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex) survey carried out in Europe.

Undertaken by the EU Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA), the study surveyed some 140,000 people across Europe, including more than 2,300 Irish people.

Over one-third of Irish LGBTI+ people surveyed said they had been harassed in the previous 12 months, with 11% revealing they had been attacked at some point in the last five years.

A total of 17% reported physical or sexual attacks to Gardaí with a further 11% reporting experiences of discrimination to an equality body or other organisation.

It comes as the annual report of LGBT Ireland revealed an increase in contacts to its online chat service relating to violence and harassment, rising to 40 in 2019 compared with just 11 the previous year.

The organisation said it has heard from people who have been shouted at or threatened with being 'outed', as well as reports of offensive graffiti on homes and threats of physical violence.

These incidents have taken place in public spaces, on public transport, in school, in workplaces, as well as online through social media, websites and dating apps.

The annual report highlighted the fact that, despite huge progress in LGBTI+ issues in recent years, Ireland is ranked 15th in Europe on LGBTI+ law and policy issues, according to ILGA Europe’s Map.

LGBT Ireland said much work remains to be done in law and policy reform here to ensure LGBTI+ people can feel safe, protected and welcome.

The report calls for robust hate crime and hate speech legislation to combat this issue. CEO of LGBT Ireland Paula Fagan said these issues need priority at the political level.

"There is political and public support here in Ireland for LGBTI+ rights but this needs more high political priority, we cannot afford to be complacent as our report shows many LGBTI+ people are still very vulnerable to discrimination," she said.

The report said that training for public sector staff is a vital component in eliminating discrimination and promoting LGBTI+ inclusion in public services, with particular emphasis on healthcare services.

This would improve the health and wellbeing outcomes for the LGBTI+ population and “has significant benefits for LGBTI+ staff by enhancing workplace inclusion for them.”

Ms Fagan said that, although “much progress has been made in achieving greater visibility, rights and inclusion of LGBTI+ people in Ireland, overcoming stigma and discrimination remains the greatest challenge for those who contacted us".

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