Wednesday, 13 May 2020
Department of Justice and Equality
Direct Provision System
355. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality the supports which exist for members of the LGBTIQ community that are within the direct provision system; the supports available across each direct provision centre; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4300/20]
As the Deputy will be aware, Minister Flanagan and I launched Ireland’s National LGBTI+ Inclusion Strategy 2019 – 2021 on 28 November last.
The Strategy contains over 100 actions that are aimed at promoting inclusion, protecting rights and improving the quality of life and wellbeing of LGBTI+ people. It reflects the commitment in the Programme for Government to create an equal, fair and inclusive society for all, to target discrimination and to enable LGBTI+ people to overcome the barriers they face.
The development of this Strategy was underpinned by a robust consultation process from October 2018 until February 2019 including a series of regional and thematically focused workshops. Specific workshop sessions were organised for international protection applicants, migrants and refugees.
Accordingly, the Strategy recognises the vulnerability of LGBTI+ people within the International Protection process and commits to measures to ensure they are treated sensitively and provided with appropriate supports over the course of the Strategy.
These measures include the introduction of new National Standards for our accommodation centres. The National Standards, published last August last year, were developed with UNHCR Ireland and members of the NGO community. The Standards are being implemented in new centres that are being contracted at present.
One of the Standards, which will benefit members of the LGBTI+ community in our accommodation centres, will be the need for continuous training to improve the service for all living in the centre, and confidential information provision through leaflets and posters in order to promote dignity.
I can also inform the Deputy of some current measures in place in our centres.
A Policy and Practice Document on safeguarding residents against Domestic, Sexual and Gender-based Violence & Harassment is implemented in our accommodation centres, which includes safeguarding residents from harassment or violence based on their sexual orientation.
The International Protection Accommodation Service of my Department (IPAS ) have staff present at the International Protection Office when a person first applies for International Protection. Should an applicant require accommodation or other services, IPAS determines the most suitable accommodation based on the needs of each individual or family group. Where a person discloses their self-determined identity to IPAS, they are, in so far as is possible and practicable, assigned accommodation based on their needs. This determination may include the provision of shared accommodation with a partner who is also seeking accommodation or being accommodated within the Direct Provision system. This would, of course, only apply where this information is disclosed.
At any time during their stay in an accommodation centre, a resident has the option to request a transfer to a more suitable centre. The policy of the IPAS is to promote equality, prevent discrimination and protect the human rights of all residents. Staff working in accommodation centres receive regular training to equip them with the skills to support all residents.
The IPAS liaises with State and NGO support agencies to assist our residents who may need guidance or support. In this regard, LGBT Ireland work with residents in our centres who identify as LGBTI.
Since 2018, LGBT Ireland has facilitated a monthly peer support group for LGBTI+ people in the International Protection process. Is Rainbow Muid continues to be active and provide vital supports to LGBTI+ people living in our accommodation centres at this time.
I can also advise the Deputy that IPAS together with the Inclusion, Equality and Gender Equality Unit of my Department are in the process of developing a broad LGBTI+ policy, which will include a transgender accommodation policy to promote equality, take account of people's self-determined identity and ensure that the safety and wellbeing of all residents is also promoted.
It had been hoped that the LGBTI+ policy for IPAS would be finalised by the end of the first quarter of this year. Unfortunately, this was not possible due to the Covid-19 crisis. However, important contacts have been made between IPAS and support agencies in the LGBTI community and a meeting between LGBT Ireland and IPAS took place at the beginning of March 2020. Further meetings with TENI and BelongTo will be arranged soon.