Thursday, 3 December 2020

Questions (94)

Brian Leddin


94. Deputy Brian Leddin asked the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth the level of funding allocated for LGBTI+ services in 2021; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40777/20]

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Oral answers (6 contributions) (Question to Children)

I ask the Minister about the level of funding available for LGBTI+ services in 2021.

In line with the commitments in the national LGBTI+ inclusion strategy, my Department continues work on mapping of LGBTI+ community services. Last week, I announced 29 projects around the country that will receive funding to a total amount of €700,000 under the 2020 LGBTI+ community services fund.

The fund comprises two schemes, one dealing with community services and the other with visibility and inclusion. The applications received were of a high standard and the application process was extremely competitive. Some 58 applications were received and, of these, 29 were successful. Ten of them will receive funding for measures supporting community services for LGBTI+ people, while 19 projects will receive funding to promote visibility and inclusion.

The fund provides for initiatives that will promote inclusion, protect rights and improve quality of life and well-being for members of the LGBTI+ community, enabling them to participate fully in Ireland's social, economic, cultural and political life.

The initiative is very much in keeping with the aims and objectives of the national LGBTI+ inclusion strategy. We are seeking to achieve tangible outcomes that will transform the lives of LGBTI+ people across Ireland. The community services fund is designed specifically with that aim in mind.

Services and initiatives that work to promote inclusion and visibility for the LGBTI+ community have an increased importance at a time when many LGBTI+ feel disconnected from their community. I am confident that these projects will be successful in ensuring members continue to feel supported in 2021.

In addition to the funding for the current year, I am pleased to confirm that I have increased the funding allocation for LGBTI+ initiatives in 2021, which will increase to €920,000 next year.

I thank the Minister for that. It is very welcome news. I want to raise the issue of LGBTI+ services in the mid-west. Following the suicide of two men in Limerick in the 1980s, a group of volunteers set up the Gay Switchboard in 1986 in the St. Vincent de Paul building, later joined by the Limerick AIDS Alliance in the same building. Those two services, with other services in Limerick, merged to form GOSHH, which stands for gender, orientation, sexual health and HIV, in the past decade. GOSHH provides a vital range of services in the mid-west, including counselling, training and operating as a focal point for the community. Can the Minister provide additional details on how he plans to support the GOSHH service in the mid-west in the next few years?

I thank the Deputy. I would be aware of the huge amount of work GOSHH does in the mid-west. It combines a range of services that add a community element to those vital health-based supports. GOSHH submitted an application under the funding call and I am pleased to be able to say that it received funding for its rainbow development project of €75,500. It is a significant investment and recognition of the very important work that organisation does in Limerick and in the mid-west.

On the smaller scale of things, but equally important, I am aware the Croom Family Resource Centre received a grant from the same funding stream of €2,800 for a youth group and café. While that amount of money is smaller, and the focus might be smaller, they are equally valuable, particularly for the ideas of participation and inclusion of LGBTI+ people, particularly young LGBTI+ people.

I thank the Minister for that answer. I will finish by asking about the status of the gay men's health service. I know many gay men, trans men and men who have sex with men have been waiting for the resumption of that service since it closed in March. Can the Minister given any clarity on when services will resume and what he is doing to expedite the opening of that much-needed service?

I thank the Deputy. As we celebrated World AIDS Day on the first day of this month it is an important time to raise the need for this very important health service to be reopened. It was an issue that was discussed at the steering group of the national LGBTI+ strategy, of which I am a member. A number of representatives in the group raised their concerns about the continued closure of the gay men's health clinic due to the Covid-19 restrictions. To update the Deputy, I have written to the Minister for Health, Deputy Donnelly, on that particular point and asked that he would expedite measures to open those services. They are crucial in the fight against the spread of HIV and in addressing a range of health issues for this community. I am engaging with the Minister, Deputy Donnelly, and I will continue to do so. I can provide the Deputy with an update on my engagements with the Minister for Health.

Question No. 95 replied to with Written Answers.