The Department of Justice and Equality continues to work on the development of a National LGBTI Inclusion Strategy and I welcome funding of €200,000 in the forthcoming Budget to support its implementation.
Preliminary consultation has taken place with a range of stakeholders including LGBTI representative and community bodies, mental and sexual health practitioners, and legal experts. A series of thematic consultation sessions are scheduled to take place throughout October and November facilitated by LGBTI experts and researchers to support the development of the Strategy.
The Strategy will take a whole of Government approach to improving outcomes for LGBTI people in Ireland. Accordingly, consultation with other Government Departments is a key feature of the strategic development process.
The first inter-departmental meeting on the development of the strategy took place in June 2018. Representatives from fourteen departments and agencies, including the Department of Health, were present to identify the key areas on which the proposed strategy should focus and how Departments can address the issues identified in specific sectors.
The Department will draw upon an impressive range of recent research to inform the consultation process and subsequent drafting of the plan. For example, in reference to mental health, the 2016 LGBT Ireland Report provides an important source of information on a national study of the mental health and wellbeing of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people in Ireland.
LGBTI+ people are identified as a priority group in Connecting for Life, Ireland’s national strategy to reduce suicide.
There are a range of supports available to young people with mental health difficulties, either through services provided directly by the HSE, or through various non-statutory agencies funded by the Executive. In particular, this includes support by the National Office for Suicide Prevention (NOSP) for LGBTI+ advocacy groups, such as Belong To or other groups that also cover, to some degree as part of their overall mental health services, LGBTI+ issues relating to young persons.
A Good Practice Guide was developed by the Psychological Society of Ireland in collaboration with GLEN (Gay and Lesbian Equality Network) and the HSE National Office for Suicide Prevention. The Guidelines inform psychologists of what they need to know when providing a psychology service to a lesbian, gay or bisexual person.
The Department of Justice and Equality will continue to consult with other Government Departments throughout the development period. A further inter-departmental meeting is planned towards the end of November to provide an update on issues arising from the consultation and seek inputs as regards potential policy responses.
I am seeking to finalise the strategy early next year.