Are Irish streets safe for LGBTQ+ people? ‘He punched me and kicked me down the stairs’

We asked readers to share their stories. Here’s what they said

‘It started with a ‘hey ladies’ ... It ended with being stamped on, her head split open and a trip to A&E.’ Photograph: iStock

Following a recent violent attack on a young gay man on a busy Dublin street we asked readers to share their stories. Here’s what they said

If one is discreet, it's probably safe, but if you are alone walking at night in Dublin it's a risk. Wearing unusual items of clothing such as a hat or colourful scarf, bright colours could attract attention from gangs of youths. If you look vulnerable they will shout out "f**ing queer" and if you react it could lead to violence. There is tension of violence in the air that is not only directed at gay people. Anyone who looks happy, affluent or different is a target. There is a lot of violence out there from angry young men directed towards people who are different. Why? Maybe they feel they can get away with it. Policing and sentencing seems to be inadequate.
Dublin city

Summer 2014, my then girlfriend and I were assaulted by a group of drunk men. It was dark and late. We let our guard down for a moment and decided to hold hands while walking home … It started with a "hey ladies", a couple of whistles and then a "mind if we join you". It ended with being stamped on, her head split open and a trip to A&E. I didn't want to report it to the gardaí, I didn't tell anyone about my broken rib. This panic of if the Garda investigate, will my parents find out I am gay? I was only 19 … Hand holding can still be a calculated risk assessment. Who's around? Is it late? Could we call for help? Someone shouting "dykes" can be enough to derail an otherwise nice evening. It's mental effort that can be so draining for what should be an effortless romantic gesture. Things are better now but incidents like what happened in Dublin this weekend are a reminder of the hate that some people still harbour even eight years on from my own experience.
Unknown location

I'm ashamed I never told my story louder. One day a few years back when leaving a well known gym in the centre of Dublin, I was walking down the stairwell and was called a "fag**t". Instead of hiding away, I told the homophobe that he cannot call me homophobic slurs. He then punched me to the ground and kicked me down the stairs as people watched in shock. I reported it to the police straight away and informed the gym in question, but sadly had to leave the gym as they gave him a warning and offered me to switch gyms "for free" – a sad case of how equality doesn't equal safety.
Dublin city

'We need to tackle the root causes of the violence in so many young people in Ireland, but in the meantime, more guards are needed'

Simply walking through Ashbourne Main Street at 9pm on a Friday evening four weeks ago with two friends, we got a can of Coke thrown at us from a passing car and "f**king fag**ts" shouted at us.
 Co Meath


I have had names called at my partner and me on the street in Dublin, in daylight and at night. I have never felt exposed to violence or abuse, but sometimes there is still a fear of being refused service in a taxi, or dirty looks becoming verbal in a restaurant or bar. I am well aware of times when others in the community have been hurt, attacked or yelled at and it makes me sick that there are small-minded people out there getting away with this behaviour. I would always call it out in public. Overall, living in the capital I don't feel much prejudice or threat daily, so I would safe it's safe for LGBTQ+ people.
Dublin 8

I was brutally beaten and hospitalised for being gay 10 years ago while I was in college. Not to mention numerous instances of being called "fag**t" on the street since.
Co Cork

As a trans woman in Ireland I feel that Ireland is very safe when compared to other countries. There's a lot of prejudice against us but Irish people are not violent. The worse type of violence I've ever experienced during my transition period was bullying and isolation but never physical violence. Now that I am fully transitioned, people do not notice I'm trans any more and also because of my profession as an engineer technician and as a volunteer with the so welcoming Samaritans, the environment I live in is healthier and more educated.
Co Westmeath

'My girlfriend and I sometimes take a walk, hand in hand, around the green outside my home. Every nerve ending stands to attention as I reach for her hand'

My husband suffered a completely unprovoked attack some time ago on Parnell St in what was a probable homophobic incident. He ended up in hospital with a broken nose and was badly shaken. I have experienced antisocial behaviour from time to time, including aggressive begging and other menacing behaviour. It is rare to see gardaí on the beat in the city centre which I find utterly puzzling given the amount of aggression and antisocial behaviour in the city. We need to tackle the root causes of the violence in so many young people in Ireland, but in the meantime, more guards are needed.
Dublin city

I'm not very open about my sexual orientation, I wish I was. There's a stigma about it around here, people stay very closed about their sexual orientation, unless you're straight, then you just get on with life. I have classmates in college who have stuff stolen from them, called slurs, beaten up, ignored.
Co Longford

The short answer to your question is "no". I am part of a generation of queer people traumatised by hatred that was (and in some places remains) normalised in Irish culture. There are pockets of Ireland where casual homophobia continues to run in the groundwater. In 2015, over a million people voted in favour of same-sex marriage. It's easy to believe that we are a modern, progressive society. It's easy to believe but it's not true. After work, my girlfriend and I sometimes take a walk, hand in hand, around the green outside my home. Every nerve ending stands to attention as I reach for her hand. There's a split second of worry: who will see? What will happen if they do? If this went bad, could I get away? Am I able to cope with someone else's hate today? I hold her hand because I love her and I am proud to be with her. I just wish I didn't have to worry that loving her publicly would make me less safe. I worry about sharing these words. I don't want to paint a target on my back. I'm nervous to share a traumatic story that I am still processing. I share it only so that you won't assume that stories like mine belong in the history books. I share it so that you won't congratulate yourself on Ireland's progressiveness and instead take stock of how far we have to go.
Co Dublin

I am a 27-year-old trainee solicitor living in Dublin. My girlfriend and I have been dating for about nine months. I feel quite safe generally on the streets of Dublin with her, however I am always conscious not to make any overt display of affection with her when on the street. We would often not hold hands in the city centre due to a (mostly subconscious) fear of homophobic comments or attack on the street. We would certainly never kiss or hug whilst on the street. I think it is a feature of non-straight relationships that is largely unknown/ignored by our straight counterparts. In my experience, I am always acutely aware of how others might react if they see my girlfriend and I on the street. It is almost as if we are not afforded the same level of disinterest by the public as those in a straight relationship. I would be particularly cautious if passing a group of men not to make it obvious that I am a lesbian so as not to attract unwanted attention or comment. In summary, it is not that I feel "unsafe" on the streets but I am conscious that threat does exist, a fact not shared by many straight people/couples.
Co Dublin

'A man with his face covered approached me and called me a 'fag**t' right into my face and then walked away laughing'

While on a date we were holding hands walking down the quays and some lads who were drinking (in broad daylight) started jeering at us. As we approached we stopped holding hands, they shouted "fag**ts' at us and asked us to kiss for them. And said other obscenities. This is a regular occurrence. Ireland is not safe. I feel antisocial behaviour in recent times has gotten out of control and the guards are doing nothing about it. It's so sad to know that these vile culprits, once caught, will never see the inside of a prison cell and be handed a suspended sentence. Ireland rewards criminals, it's so disgusting and I can't wait to emigrate. I've had enough of hearing people getting beaten up. Because of this I refuse to go on the bus or the Luas any more because it's just not safe.
Co Dublin

I'm a woman in my mid-30s. I live in Dublin 8. Recently I was walking home from visiting a friend in the same area. It was dark around 7.30pm/8pm. I was walking down Cork Street and a man with his face covered approached me and called me a "fag**t" right into my face and then walked away laughing. It was really unsettling and I'm concerned about being out alone at night now. I have recently returned to Dublin after living in Australia for a number of years and I don't feel safe.
Dublin city

*Names have been withheld at respondents’ request