Former Glen chief accused HSE of ‘institutionalised homophobia’

Health service says it is ‘categorically’ not the case that it believes there are no LGBT rights issues to be addressed

Áine Duggan, former executive director of the gay equality charity Glen, claimed in an email she had been told by a HSE official that gay rights were no longer a funding priority following the 2015 marriage referendum.

Áine Duggan, former executive director of the gay equality charity Glen, claimed in an email she had been told by a HSE official that gay rights were no longer a funding priority following the 2015 marriage referendum.

 

The former executive director of the gay equality charity Glen, which is being wound up over corporate governance issues, claimed the Health Service Executive showed signs of “institutionalised homophobia” in a row over cuts to funding.

Áine Duggan, who stepped down from the role in April after highlighting concerns about alleged financial mismanagement, claimed in an email she had been told by a HSE official that gay rights were no longer a funding priority following the 2015 marriage referendum.

The correspondence was published by The Sunday Times newspaper, which obtained it under the Freedom of Information Act.

In the email of February 16th last, Ms Duggan said the conversation with the official took place after she found Glen’s funding was to be cut.

“I understand from that conversation that the HSE’s position is that there are no LGBTI issues that need to be addressed, in a post-marriage referendum society, and that funding to LGBTI organisations is to be reviewed, with the indication given that Glen’s funding would be cut,” she wrote.

Ms Duggan said the conversation suggested that this was the “official position of the HSE” and that this was “deeply problematic and will be alarming to the LGBTI community”.

She described the tone of the conversation and the statement that there were no pressing LGBTI issues in the wake of the marriage referendum as “frightening”.

She further said this position “gives the impression of what can sometimes be an institutionalised homophobia, as has been witnessed in institutions in other jurisdictions that have achieved same-sex marriage rights”.

Ms Duggan said when she stepped down that she had become aware of grave issues and irregularities at the charity shortly after being appointed last October.

It is being wound up following a review by former senator Jillian van Turnhout.

The HSE confirmed a conversation took place between Áine Duggan and a member of staff of the mental health division and that it had addressed the concerns raised with the member of staff concerned.

“The HSE wishes to categorically state that it is not the position of the HSE mental health division that there are no LGBTI issues that need to be addressed, in a post marriage referendum society.

“On the contrary, the HSE mental health division continue to work proactively to support the mental health of the LGBTI community as a priority group under our national suicide prevention strategy , Connecting for Life,” it added.

It said the division continued to fund a number of LGBTI groups, including BelonG To, TENI, and the LGBT helpline .