Minister unveils LGBT programme


A programme aimed at developing a better understanding of gender identity and sexual orientation in Irish society was unveiled in Dublin today.

LGBT Diversity will work to develop networks for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in parts of the country that are significantly underserved by such services. The programme also aims to create greater cohesion among LGBT organisations to strengthen the sector nationally.

The programme, developed through the collaboration of 11 LGBT organisations and funded by Atlantic Philanthropies, was announced by Pat Carey, the Minister for Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs.

Speaking today, Mr Carey said: "Irish society has not always been as supportive of gay people as it should have been, particularly in rural Ireland.

"Young LGBT people who felt isolated in rural communities, and unable to be true to themselves, have often felt forced to move away to cities."

The Minister said it was "a cause of sadness and a terrible waste of potential when a young person is lost to a rural community because of their sexual orientation or gender identity".

Speaking about the Civil Partnership Bill, the Minister said there was no doubt the absence of official recognition for same-sex relationships helped to reinforce prejudice in society, and he commended the work of the LGBT community for their advocacy in gaining support for the Bill. He said the passage of the Bill shows "ignorance and homophobia has no place in a modern Ireland".

LGBT diversity manager Derek McDonnell said "despite recent progress for LGBT people in Ireland, a significant number still find it difficult to be ‘out’ and remain living in their local communities".

"Many feel they can’t play a full role in the community where they were born, and this can result in a profound isolation and increased exposure to mental health issues," he said.

Mr McDonnell said the programme - which has co-ordinators in the southeast, midlands and northwest - will work with existing community organisations, bolstering their capacity to respond to the needs LGBT people.