A social and support group for the London Irish LGBT community is being launched on 17 October at the Irish Embassy in London.
It is the first group of its kind in the city since the 1980’s and is being organised by Mind Yourself, a charity set up to improve the health and well-being of London’s Irish community.
Dr Daniel Mulhall, Ambassador of Ireland to Germany, will host the launch event, and speeches will be made by human rights activist and group member Bernard Lynch, Transgender Equality Network of Ireland Health & Education Officer Vanessa Lacey and 2nd generation poet Maureen Duffy.
Mind Yourself’s director Claire Barry said: “We are delighted that Ambassador Mulhall has agreed to host the launch of the group. It is a very symbolic gesture for the LGBT community because many people felt forced out of Ireland because of their sexuality or gender identity. When they arrived in London they also faced discrimination in accessing services, both in Irish organisations and in mainstream services. The launch at the Embassy validates the rights of all citizens.”
The group hopes to fly the rainbow flag at the London St Patrick’s Day parade and the Irish flag at London Pride. Future activities include monthly well-being sessions and social activities and there are plans for a seminar on identity in the London Irish LGBT community.
In a survey of 350 LGBT respondents aged 13-25 by LGBT Youth Scotland released last month, 56% said they felt safe and supported by the NHS in terms of their sexual orientation or gender identity; this was much lower for lesbians at 43% – for transgender young people it was 48%.
40% of LGBT young people considered themselves to have mental health problems, compared with the overall Scottish figure of one in four for the general population.