Older people in the LGBT community are feeling “fearful” following the murders of two gay men in Sligo.
Yesterday, 23-year-old Yousef Palani was given two life sentences for the killing of Aidan Moffitt and Michael Snee in April 2022.
Both men had been stabbed to death and Mr Moffitt’s body had been decapitated.
Speaking to Newstalk Breakfast, Dublin Gay Theatre Festival founder Brian Merriman said the “sobering and sad” case has brought back painful memories of more homophobic times.
“It sounds like history is repeating itself - both politically, culturally and religiously,” he said.
“The world is going towards extremes.”
Despite this, Mr Merriman said the big difference between the past and the present is the love you can see in both victim’s lives.
“To hear the families speak of their ‘Loved Ones’ - and you can use capital letters - is a far cry from many of the older gay and lesbian people were shunned by their families 50-years-ago and are now living isolated in compulsory singlehood because they were never allowed to have relationships and families,” he said.
“We have a responsibility to them because they must be very fearful and we must not just talk about the younger people who are very articulate and confident, thankfully, as a result of what we’ve achieved.”
A difficult history
At the time, homosexuality itself was a crime in Ireland and during the investigation into the death of Charles Self, Gardaí switched the focus from finding the killer to compiling a dossier on the gay community.
In the process, several were outed to their family and employers and many in the LGBT community developed a bitterness and anger towards the force that lasted for years afterwards.
Over four decades on, Mr Merriman said the killing of Aidan Moffitt and Michael Snee shows that the LGBT community can trust Gardaí to protect them.
“There are still older people and in rural Ireland who experience the rejection of their families - unlike the men who were murdered in Sligo - and we have to reach out to them and say, ‘Do not be alone, if anybody comes to harm you or to abuse you or threaten you, the Garda Síochána, as they have demonstrated clearly, will support you,’” he said.
“They understand and the courts will take action and that’s a very strong message out of this.”
If you have been affected by any of the issues in this case you can contact LGBT Ireland’s helpline on 1800 929 539.
Main image: Split of a vigil for Aidan Moffitt and Michael Snee and Yousef Palani leaving court.