Last Updated: Friday, 15 December 2017, 16:28 GMT

Ireland: State protection available to homosexuals

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Author Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada
Publication Date 2 April 2003
Citation / Document Symbol IRL41278.E
Reference 7
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Ireland: State protection available to homosexuals, 2 April 2003, IRL41278.E, available at: [accessed 18 December 2017]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Sexual orientation is one of nine forms of discrimination recognized as unlawful by the Republic of Ireland's Equality Authority (EA) (Republic of Ireland n.d.a), an independent institution empowered to promote equality for members of the homosexual community on the basis of "their experience, situation and identity" (ILGA-Europe Aug. 2002a, 19). In a report entitled "Implementing Equality for Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals," the EA published a series of recommendations to serve as an agenda for action in addressing lesbian, gay and bisexual disadvantage in various sectors of Irish society (ibid.). The International Gay and Lesbian Association - Europe (ILGA-Europe) quoted Ailbhe Smyth of the Women's Education, Research and Resource Centre, of the University College of Dublin, in calling the report "a landmark in the history and status of lesbian, gay and bisexual people in Ireland, and a crucial step forward on the path to creating a truly equal and more open society" (ILGA-Europe June 2002, 4).

Under the auspices of the EA, an Advisory Committee on Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals brings together representatives of lesbian, gay and bisexual organizations and the government to address issues relevant to the homosexual community (HEEU June 2000). Among initiatives introduced by the EA was the development of a code of practice requiring schools to protect gay and lesbian pupils from harassment or discrimination by classmates or teachers (The Irish Examiner 27 Jan. 2003). Individuals who believe they have been discriminated against may also complain to the EA, which may investigate and provide free legal representation for the complainant during the investigation (Republic of Ireland n.d.b).

In addition, the Irish Department of Health and Children is reportedly active in the gay community with respect to AIDS and other health issues of importance to gay and bisexual men (ENMP 14 June 2002). Legally, the Prohibition on the Incitement to Hatred Act of 1989 outlaws acts that incite hatred on the basis of, among other reasons, sexual orientation (AI May 2001). Amnesty International adds, however, that as of May 2001, there had been no successful prosecutions under the act (ibid.). Discrimination in employment on the basis of sexual orientation was outlawed through the Employment Equality Act of 1998 and the Equal Status Act of 2000 (ILGA-Europe Aug. 2002a, 19).

The 1997 Treaty of Amsterdam and the non-binding 2000 Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union authorizes the EU to intervene into Ireland and other member states in cases of discrimination based on sexual orientation (The Gay & Lesbian Review Nov.-Dec. 2002). In addition, Irish citizens may apply for redress from the European Ombudsman, which reports that it commonly receives complaints concerning discrimination from citizens of European member states (EU 2002, 7). In addition to state agencies, lesbian, gay and bisexual individuals are supported by numerous local, regional and national NGOs including the National Lesbian and Gay Federation based in Dublin (Delta V 16 June 2002; ILGA-Europe Aug. 2002b, 19).

The Research Directorate did not find any reports indicating police maltreatment or refusal to respond to complaints of LBG persons among the sources consulted for this response.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


Amnesty International. May 2001. Irish Section. "Against Racism in Ireland: A Call for Leadership." [Accessed 31 Mar. 2003]

Delta V [Arlington, Virginia]. 16 June 2002. "Republic of Ireland GLBT Organizations." [Accessed 31 Mar. 2003]

European Network Male Prostitution (ENMP) [Amsterdam]. 14 June 2002. "Ireland: Social Situation." [Accessed 31 Mar. 2003]

European Union (EU). 2002. European Ombudsman. "What Can the Ombudsman Do for You?" [Accessed 31 Mar. 2003]

The Gay and Lesbian Review [Boston]. November-December 2002. Vol. 9, No. 6. Joydeep Sengupta. "Gay Rights and European Citizenship." [Accessed 31 Mar. 2003]

Higher Education Equality Unit (HEEU) [Cork]. June 2000. HEEU Newsletter. "Equality Authority Advisory Committee on Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals." [Accessed 31 Mar. 2003]

International Lesbian and Gay Association - Europe (ILGA- Europe). August 2002a. ILGA-Europe Newsletter. Vol. 2, No. 3. Kurt Krickler. "Landmark Report." [Accessed 31 Mar. 2003]

_____. August 2002b. ILGA-Europe Newsletter. Vol. 2, No. 3. James Knox. "LGBT Anti-Discrimination Legislation and Campaigning." [Accessed 31 Mar. 2003]

_____. June 2002. Euro-Letter No. 98. "Landmark Irish Report on the Status of LGB People." [Accessed 1 Apr. 2003]

The Irish Examiner. 27 January 2003. Caroline O'Doherty. "New Code Protects Gay and Lesbian Students." (Union of Students in Ireland, Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Rights Campaign 2 Feb. 2003) [Accessed 1 Apr. 2003]

Republic of Ireland. n.d.a. The Equality Authority. "9 Discriminatory Grounds." [Accessed 31 Mar. 2003]

_____. n.d.b. The Equality Authority. "Legal Service." [Accessed 1 Apr. 2003]

Additional Sources Consulted

IRB Databases

Internet sites, including:

European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions

Foyle Friend

Gay London News

International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission

Ireland's Pink Pages

Joint Promotion of Anti-Discrimination at Local Level

Outhouse Community and Resource Centre

Republic of Ireland. Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform

Copyright notice: This document is published with the permission of the copyright holder and producer Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The original version of this document may be found on the offical website of the IRB at Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.

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