A gay asylum seeker has opened up about the terror he felt while sharing accommodation with two homophobes in the Irish refugee system.
Preet Tahul, originally from Mauritius, told Hot Press magazine that he fled his homophobic family and sought asylum in Ireland – but the country’s harsh refugee system, known as direct provision, has left him vulnerable to the same homophobia he ran away from.
Direct provision is Ireland’s system of accommodating asylum seekers. It was initially introduced as an “interim” system in 2000 to provide accommodation to refugees for six months while they waited for the state to make a decision on their claim.
Since then, it has become a billion-euro industry under which hotels and B&Bs are co-opted to house asylum seekers.
Amnesty International has called the system “an ongoing human rights scandal” – yet the Irish government has been slow to react.
Asylum seeker Preet Tahul had to share a room with two homophobic men in Ireland’s direct provision system.
Tahul, 42, first visited Ireland when he studied accounting in Dublin in the mid-2000s – but his family tricked him into returning home by faking an illness.
There, they tried to force him to marry a woman. He fled the country and sought asylum in Ireland. Since then, the country has rejected his claim, and he is currently going through an appeals process.
Since arriving in Ireland, Tahul has been subjected to homophobia within the country’s direct provision system.
It was very tough for me, because in the morning when I was going to use the shower or toilet, they were making so much fun of me.
While staying in a direct provision icentre in Finglas, Dublin, he was harassed by homophobes who targeted him because of his sexuality.
“I was sharing the room with two guys who were homophobic, and on the block where I was staying there were only guys, and the bathrooms and toilets were communal,” Tahul told Hot Press.
“It was very tough for me, because in the morning when I was going to use the shower or toilet, they were making so much fun of me, and you know, I’m very feminine physically.”
Tahul said that he is suffering from depression and is “suicidal” in Ireland’s direct provision system.
Since his experience in the Finglas direct provision centre, Tahul has been moved to a new centre in Athlone, Co Westmeath.
He is hopeful that the next person he shares with will be a member of the LGBT+ community, but there is no guarantee.
Direct provision has proven detrimental to the lives of LGBT+ asylum seekers. In 2018, transgender woman Sylva Tukula died in a direct provision centre after she was housed in a male facility. She was later buried without any of her friends present after a “breakdown in communication” between state departments.
In June, gay man Bulelani Mfaco told PinkNews that he was forced to relive the trauma of being persecuted for his sexuality when he ended up sharing accommodation with a homophobic man in a direct provision centre.
“The Irish state does not expect asylum seekers to live. We are only expected to exist and keep breathing,” he said at the time.