83% of LGBT+ Young People Surveyed Call for Changes to Drug Laws

83% of LGBT+ Young People Surveyed Call for Changes to Drug Laws

Tuesday July 25th, 2017

BeLonG To Youth Services, the National LGBT+ Youth Service Calls for Decriminalisation of Drugs for Personal Use

The current legal situation criminalising drug use in Ireland prevents young people from asking questions, finding information, and looking for help in a dangerous situation, according to results from the BeLonG To Youth Services Drugs and Alcohol Attitude survey. The survey results were released to mark the 10-year anniversary of the BeLonG To Drug and Alcohol Service at an event today in Dublin.

83% of LGBT+ young people surveyed called for changes to drug laws in Ireland highlighting the effect of the current drug legislation on them and their peers: “It makes it impossible to know the source/origin of drugs, and so, you don’t know fully what you’re taking – making it even more dangerous.” Additional responses highlighting the effect of the current drug legislation in Ireland included: “It’s hard to get drugs that are not laced with dangerous chemicals” and “Because we are forced underground, it’s easier to be introduced to hard-core drugs.”

LACK OF INFORMATION AVAILABLE 

Some 73% of those surveyed said that young people do not have the information necessary to make safe choices about drugs, comparing the current situation around drug education to abstinence-only sex education. “Teens still have sex, and they still do drugs,” stated one participant. “Young people are only ever told to not take drugs, and they are never given information on how to take drugs safely,” according to another.

Moninne Griffith, Executive Director with BeLonG To, says that the national LGBT+ youth service supports the decriminalisation of drugs for personal use. “We believe that drug use should be treated as a health care issue – not a criminal issue. From listening to our young people, we know that the narrative around drugs in Ireland needs to change. Instead of criminal sanctions in response to drug possession with devastating repercussions on career, travel and education prospects, we need to offer support and knowledge in line with harm reduction approaches. Since decriminalisation in 2001, Portugal has seen huge increases in the numbers of drug dependent people accessing treatment, a reduction in drug-related harms, and a decline in drug use among the most vulnerable populations – young people and problematic users. This model is possible for Ireland with the decriminalisation of drugs and a move towards a health-lead approach to drugs.

As identified in the National Drugs Strategy, LGBT+ young people are a vulnerable group with specific health needs. Following the launch of the strategy, we are hopeful that resources will be made available for young LGBT+ people to access targeted services such as the BeLonG To Drug and Alcohol Service. It is a priority that we reduce harm and educate our young people on how to stay safe and healthy in relation to drug use.”

Speaking at today’s anniversary event marking a decade of the BeLonG To Drug and Alcohol Services, Anna Quigley, Chairperson BeLonG To Youth Services said:

“Today is a day of celebration for BeLonG To Youth Services for two reasons. Firstly, we are marking the 10th anniversary of our LGBT+ Youth Drug and Alcohol Service, which has led the way in developing a dynamic and innovative response to the needs of our young people in relation to issues around drug and alcohol use.

Secondly, this excellent and pioneering work can now be built on with the recognition in the new National Drugs Strategy ‘Reducing Harm, Supporting Recovery’, that LGBT+ young people are a group with specific needs in relation to drug and alcohol use that require access to targeted services, such as the BeLonG To Drug and Alcohol Service. As we mark our 10th anniversary, we look forward to working in partnership with Minister Catherine Byrne and the new National Drugs Strategy Committee in the development of services that are relevant and responsive to the needs of LGBT+ young people.”          

Some 200 young LGBT+ were surveyed to mark the 10-year anniversary of the specialised LGBT+ drug and alcohol service at BeLonG To Youth Services. The survey results were released at an anniversary event held today in The Outhouse in Dublin.

ENDS

 

Contact: To arrange interview or for further information, please contact Sinead Keane, Communications Officer 087 7680389/ 01 670 6223.

 

Notes to Editors: 

  • The BeLonG To Drug and Alcohol Attitude Survey was conducted with 191 young LGBT+ people in 2017.
  • The Over 18’s Group at BeLonG To Youth Services share their vision of how drug use can be made safe with this short video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dAWUUvlyfTw
  • BeLonG To Youth Services is the national organisation supporting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT+) young people in Ireland. Since 2003, BeLonG To has worked with LGBT+ young people to create a world where they are equal, safe and valued in the diversity of their identities and experiences. The organisation also advocates and campaigns on behalf of young LGBT+ people and offers a specialised LGBT+ youth service with a focus on mental and sexual health, alongside drug and alcohol outreach.