Levels of homophobia in Ireland have steadily increased over the past few years, a spokesman for LGBT Ireland has warned.
Following the murders of Aidan Moffitt and Michael Snee earlier in the week, James O’Hagan of LGBT Ireland stressed that while overall this is a “very safe country for LGBTQ people to live in”, acceptance is far from universal:
“This particular string of events are at the very most extreme end of the story of discrimination and violence which all minority communities experience,” he told The Anton Savage Show.
“But I suppose that while it has been shocking to the broader community seeing this and echoing back it’s 40 years since the murder of Declan Flynn - so it really brings up that sense of an Ireland from years ago.
“But within the LGBTQ community, we’ve been aware of this trend, this increase in homophobic activity in the last number of years and it’s been just an undercurrent that we have been experiencing.
“We saw last summer across Pride celebrations around the country that flags were torn down and burned.
“We’ve seen graffiti sprayed on LGBTQ venues, we’ve seen an increase, anecdotally on social media, of people sort of experiencing verbal abuse on the streets.
“All of this is backed up by some research which is carried out by the University of Limerick which showed that one in three members of the LGBT community had been a victim of verbal abuse or some form of physical violence.”
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'We still have a long way to go'
Last Sunday rugby player Evan Somers told Newstalk that he believed “we still have a long way to go” after he was attacked and called a “f****t” outside The George nightclub in Dublin.
"I think it's easy to get wrapped up in this notion that Ireland is this perfect, kind of little, accepting country,” Mr Somers said.
"In many ways it is - the marriage referendum and everything in 2015 was obviously amazing.
"But it's easy to think the story stops there, or the struggle stops there - but clearly we still have a long way to go".
Across the country this Easter weekend, vigils have been organised by the LGBT community to honour and remember Aidan Moffitt and Michael Snee.
Speaking outside Leinster House on Friday evening, businessman and National LGBT Federation board member Steve Jacques told a crowd of hundreds of mourners:
"We demand a safe Ireland where all people, including our own community, are free from harm and bigotry and hate.
"Michael and Aidan: we are not letting your death and your suffering go unnoticed, our rainbow community will remember you.
"Someone with no excuse whatsoever hurt you, and because they hurt you they hurt us".
Main image: Dublin LGBTQ Pride Manager Eddie Mc Guinness holds the Rainbow and Trans Flag, 23-08-2018. Image: Sam Boal/RollingNews