A comprehensive EU-wide study, the EU LGBTI Survey II, carried out by the Fundamental Rights Agency, reveals that 24 percent of Irish LGBTQ+ individuals encounter housing difficulties, a percentage that rises sharply to 46 percent for trans and Intersex people. And alarming data places Ireland at the 23rd position out of 28 EU countries regarding housing challenges for LGBTQ+ individuals, positioning us among the worst EU states.
While there is extensive international research, official statistics in Ireland fail to capture the full scale of LGBTQ+ homelessness, as questions about sexual orientation and gender identity are not consistently included in initial assessments, and many LGBTQ+ people who are homeless never present to homeless services due to fear, stigma, or past experiences. The lack of consensus among homeless service providers on the scale of the impact of the homelessness problem for LGBTQ+ people in Ireland further complicates the issue, as revealed by research conducted by Focus Ireland and Belong To.
Conversations with members of the LGBTQ+ community who have experienced homelessness shed light on the pervasive feelings of shame and stigma. These emotions stem not only from their peers but also from within the homeless community itself, where they often face discrimination due to their LGBTQ+ identity. Fear of sleeping rough and apprehension about encountering discrimination in shelters compound the challenges faced by those seeking refuge.
Recognising the urgency of the matter, earlier this year Outhouse convened a multi-stakeholder group comprising LGBTQ+ organisations, homeless service providers, the HSE, and the Dublin Regional Homeless Executive. This group aims to establish dedicated emergency accommodation tailored to the unique and intersecting needs of LGBTQ+ individuals.
Significant progress has been achieved in the past year, culminating in drafting an initial service design. The next crucial step involves consulting with LGBTQ+ individuals who have firsthand experience with emergency accommodation and homeless services or are at risk of homelessness. This input is essential to ensuring the plans are comprehensive and fit for purpose.
The experiences shared by LGBTQ+ individuals paint a vivid picture of their daily challenges. Many have recounted stories of navigating the complexities of identity within the broader societal context and in the confines of emergency shelters. The struggle with shame and stigma is intensified by the fear of being ‘othered or outed’ due to their LGBTQ+ identity, perpetuating a cycle of isolation and vulnerability.
It is self-evident that addressing LGBTQ+ homelessness requires more than just providing shelter. It demands a nuanced understanding of the intersectionality of identities and experiences within the LGBTQ+ community. Outhouse’s commitment to inclusivity is reflected in the goal of dedicated emergency accommodation and the ongoing efforts to involve those directly affected by homelessness in the decision-making process.
If you have lived through homelessness and wish to contribute to shaping the design of dedicated emergency accommodation and homeless services for LGBTQ+ people, we invite you to reach out. Contact us at email@example.com to share your insights and participate in this transformative initiative.
The path towards eradicating LGBTQ+ homelessness in Ireland is undoubtedly challenging. Still, it is through collaborative efforts and the amplification of individual voices that progress is possible, and we can create a dedicated, safe, fit-for-purpose, and responsive shelter and service for LGBTQ+ people.