In our advocacy work we focus on a number of strategic themes while also responding to emerging issues. Read about our current areas of focus below and find out how you can support our campaigns:
LGBT+ Family Rights Campaign
In consultation with LGBT+ families, LGBT Ireland has been campaigning to advance the rights and recognition of LGBT+ families living in Ireland. The campaign has a dual focus:
To ensure that Parts 2, 3 & 9 of the Children and Families Relationship Act (CFRA) 2015 are fully commenced without further delay, to provide legal certainty to same sex couples with donor conceived children. The following case study illustrates what this means for families.
Elaine and Jenny are married and have a baby daughter, born in June 2018. Jenny as the non-birth parent, is unable to register as the legal parent (i.e.) be named on the child’s birth certificate, as Parts 2,3 & 9 of the Act have not yet been commenced. Under the CFR Act 2015, Jenny will be able to apply for guardianship after the child turns 2 years of age.
Therefore, as the law currently stands, Jenny has no legal relationship to her child and is unable to establish a legal relationship until her daughter is two years old. This is despite the fact that the couple are married and planned the pregnancy together. This means Jenny is unable to apply for documentation (e.g.) a passport for her daughter and is unable to give consent including medical consent.
We are also campaigning to seek additions and amendments to the General Scheme for Assisted Human Reproduction (AHR) Bill 2017. These changes are needed to ensure that the legislation reflects the reality of AHR procedures being undertaken by opposite sex and same sex couples, including extending provisions to surrogacy arrangements undertaken abroad, provided those jurisdictions have a similar regulatory framework to Ireland.
James and Kevin’s story below highlights the need for a comprehensive legislative framework to be progressed urgently.
James and Kevin have two children, which they conceived using a surrogate mother in the UK. James is the legal parent of both children. The surrogate for the couple is in regular contact and is happy to consent to Kevin being recognised the children’s other legal parent.
The couple have tried to pursue second-parent adoption as a way of establishing Kevin as a legal parent, however TUSLA have advised that this process isn’t possible at the moment as surrogacy is not recognised in Irish law.
One of the children has significant health issues and needs regular medical attention, and while Kevin does have guardianship of both children this does not recognise his parental relationship to them, which has huge implications for the family, as James explains “I have a little boy with a rare health condition which will mean he will need care AFTER his other dad’s guardianship ends when he’s 18.”
The policy and legal reforms needed in this area are extensive and complex, for more information read our Proposals for Reform, document which sets outs our recommendations in detail.
LGBT+ Refugee & Asylum Seekers
It is currently unclear how many asylum seekers claiming international protection in Ireland are doing so on grounds of having been persecuted/or fear of being persecuted due to their sexual orientation or gender identity. LGBT Ireland facilitates a monthly peer support group called Identity which specifically focuses on supporting LGBT asylum seekers living in Direct Provision from across Ireland. Their experiences inform our advocacy work in this area and based on this knowledge we are campaigning for the following:
Special accommodation considerations for LGBT+ asylum seekers
LGBT Ireland recommends that LGBT asylum seekers who disclose their sexual orientation and/or gender identity be accommodated in those Direct Provision centres based in cities (Cork, Galway, Dublin) and towns (Dundalk) where wraparound supports exist to enable living in Direct Provision to be a less frightening, less isolating, less detrimental experience for people’s mental health and well-being. Through being part of the nearby Irish LGBT+ community, they can access social, cultural and skills development to ease their positive and safe integration into Irish society when that becomes a full option open to them.
LGBT Ireland welcomes the National Standards for Direct Provision Centres and recommends their full and timely implementation as well as an independent oversight body to report annually on implementation progress.
Training of relevant IPO officials, immigration and Gardai
LGBT Ireland recommends that all immigration officials and Gardai working at points of entry into Ireland, as well as IPO interviewers are both trained in the type of LGBT+ Awareness described earlier, as well as publicly displaying information and symbols which communicate to claimants that the Irish State and its agents are aware of and actively protect LGBT+ human rights.
Irish embassies and consulates use their reach and leverage
Irish embassies and consulates need to become active in the countries and regions of the world where they are based and where the situation for LGBT+ people remains legally and culturally very dangerous to life, and the civil and political rights of LGBT+ citizens and groups are difficult to exercise. They can do this by:
- providing safe spaces for celebratory events (Pride events, film screenings etc.) and enabling networking between LGBT+ activists and representatives of supportive governments to develop cultural and time appropriate strategies to bring LGBT+ human rights onto the national agenda or advance same;
- providing important financial assistance to enable LGBT+ activists operate safely and to best effect in their own countries, to support LGBT+ people, to document and to build a grassroots as well as a strategic larger movement for challenging and changing homophobic laws, practices and beliefs;
- making appropriate public gestures (flying the rainbow flag) and statements at times of particular violent attacks and incitement- verbal, physical- to signal a safe haven and a friend to those being persecuted and terrified as recently witnessed in Tanzania
LGBT+ Older People
It is estimated that approximately 23,396 persons in Ireland aged-65 years and over may be lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, and while some of the challenges in ageing may be similar for all ageing populations, older LGBT+ people face additional challenges. These include the “double invisibility” faced by older LGBT people compared to older people generally and the lack of appropriate community and social supports for this aging population.
With the current generation of older LGBT+ people statistically more likely to live alone and less likely to have children than their heterosexual peers[i] it is important that mainstream health and social care services are welcoming and supportive of this population group, so they can access support when they need it. However, international research on older LGBT people supports the view that health and social care systems are often seen as unwelcoming, which leads to mistrust and poor uptake of mainstream health and social services.[ii], [iii]
Statistics from the Irish Visible Lives study showed that 40% of the older people surveyed where not out to their healthcare provider and many feared that healthcare staff would not understand or would discriminate against them because they were LGBT. The study also found that many older LGBT people perceive nursing homes as unwelcoming or insensitive to their healthcare needs.x
The findings from the study emphasise the need to ensure that the healthcare staff are properly trained and that services are inclusive of LGBT+ people.
LGBT Ireland’s Champions Training Programme
To respond to this training need, LGBT Ireland has developed a specific training programme for health and social care professionals working with older people. Based on the Dementia Champions model, this programme builds the capacity of health and social care professionals to support them to become champions of LGBT+ rights, visibility and inclusion within their own services. Link to Champions Training on training section of LGBT.ie
[i] Stonewall UK. (2011). Lesbian, Gay & Bisexual People & Later Life https://www.stonewall.org.uk/sites/default/files/LGB_people_in_Later_Life__2011_.pdf
[ii] Phillips J. and Marks G. (2008) Ageing lesbians: Marginalising discourses and social exclusion in the aged care industry. Journal of Gay and Lesbian Social Services 20(1), 187-202.
[iii] Grossman A.H., D’Augelli A.R. and Herschberger S.L. (2000) Social support networks of lesbian, gay, and bisexual adults 60 years of age and older. Journal of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences 55B(3), 171-179.