Thomas Pringle TD

Pringle: We must ensure our country is a safe space for all

Pringle: We must ensure our country is a safe space for all

Independent TD for Donegal, Thomas Pringle, said it is time to ensure equality for all, during statements in the Dáil on LGBTI+ and equality.

Addressing the Dáil on Thursday, Deputy Pringle said: “It goes without saying that we should never be content to live in a country where people don’t feel safe to be themselves.

“Unfortunately, this country has not been a safe space for many in the past and it is time that we not only recognise this, but actively ensure that this will never be the case again in this country’s future.”

The deputy said: “It seems like we are only going backwards recently. The fact that our national broadcaster allowed for a discussion on trans people’s existence is absolutely disgraceful. By broadcasting such a discussion, RTÉ has completely forgone professional research and well-informed debate.”

He said: “Conversations like these only serve to divide and isolate. What was the goal here? How do we still live in a country where someone’s very existence can be questioned? This is unacceptable behaviour and it needs to be stopped immediately.”

The deputy said he was shocked by the findings of a recent Mental Health Reform and LGBT Ireland report, saying that their research has consistently found that mental health difficulties are more common among LGBTI+ people than among heterosexual cisgender people.

Deputy Pringle said: “LGBTI+ people face significant challenges not faced by heterosexual cisgender people that can result in additional psychological stress and reduced well-being, including institutionalised prejudice, social exclusion, and LGBTI+ related harassment, bullying, and violence.

“This then of course leads to a wide range of mental health difficulties, and ones that are unique to the community. It is clear then that a more targeted approach is needed in order to provide sufficient services to address such difficulties,” he said.

The deputy said the LGBTI+ community have reported bad experiences with healthcare providers and very high levels of dissatisfaction with mental health services in this country.

Deputy Pringle said: “This has been attributed to a variety of factors, including health inequalities due to heteronormativity, minority stress, and experiences of bias and discrimination in healthcare settings, as well as a general lack of knowledge about LGBTI+ issues.

“This is not good enough. It’s clear that we require better provision and improvement of mental health services so that they better meet the needs of the LGBTI+ community and the diverse groups therein.

“I would like to call on the Government to ensure that mental health services and supports are inclusive to the needs of marginalised groups, such as the LGBTI+ community, as well as other marginalised communities in this country, such as the Traveller community and migrants,” he said.

The deputy also said care and supports must be extended through schools, to ensure there is no discrimination against LGBTQI+ students as they “come to terms with who they are and who they are in this world”.

Deputy Pringle said: “At this day and age we should be able to facilitate them, we should be able to encourage them, and we should be able to protect them and allow them to grow.”

Deputy Pringle concluded: “We need to ensure the fair, proper provision of services for everyone in this country. We need to stop going backwards. It is time now to move forward and to ensure equality for all.”