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“No matter how strong you are - it breaks you.

When people arrive in this country and declare their status as asylum seekers, they are put into a harrowing housing system called Direct Provision, in which they can be stuck for years, not knowing whether they will be deported or not. For LGBT+ asylum seekers Direct Provision o en transplants the oppression they were eeing from to Ireland, as Chris O’Donnell reports. Photo by Vukasin Nedeljkovic from the asylumarchive.com

“If they find out back home about the orientation of an LGBT+ individual who then gets deported, then that person faces unimaginable retribution.

Being LGBT+ and moving to a new country can be daunting at the best of times, considering the wide variety of reactions LGBT+ individuals face in differing cultural contexts. Now consider how frightening it must be for LGBT+ asylum seekers who are fleeing from dreadful circumstances from countries where there are horrendous punishments, including imprisonment, torture, or even death on the basis of their orientation. They face isolation from their families and friends, and have no idea what is going to happen to them when they arrive to the country in which they are seeking asylum. In Ireland, asylum seekers are given no information about how long they will retain that status.

Direct Provision is an institutional housing system that was designed a decade and half ago to be a short-term solution for dealing with asylum seekers after they arrived and declared their status in Ireland. Since then many asylum seekers have spent years living in this system, in conditions that are damaging to their health, welfare and life-chances. They are not allowed to work, and they’re not entitled to social welfare, social housing or third level education. With such inhumane conditions, these centres may act as a warning sign – a big red ‘stop’ sign - to prevent asylum seekers using Ireland as an ‘easy access’ route to Europe.

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About GCN

Our provocative cover by artist and designer, Niall Sweeney, celebrates ten years of Pantibar while cheekily harking back to a certain fetish club both he and Rory O'Neill (aka Panti) ran in the mid-90s. Inside we discuss Sweeney's long-term artistic relationship with O'Neill and how their friendship has informed the evolution of Dublin's queer scene over three decades (the full recording of which is available via GCN’s new podcast Q&A: The Queer and Alternative Podcast). Elsewhere we talk to some high-flying champions of LGBT+ diversity in companies like Vodafone, Deloitte, Accenture Ireland, eir and Web Summit, about the benefits of bringing your authentic self to work, and the members of Intertech Ireland tell us about connecting the LGBT+ tech workforce. Chris O’Donnell hears from some non-national LGBTs who are effectively serving time in Ireland’s hellish Direct Provision centres about the double discrimination of being an LGBT+ asylum seeker. Shaun Dunne, author of a documentary-style play featuring the testimony of those living with HIV speaks to members of ACT UP ahead of its Dublin Theatre Festival run, and Ray O'Neill talks work/life balance. Plus, all the best news, opinion, reviews, events, and much more.