herald

Sunday 4 December 2016

We're a gay couple and no lan dlord will rent a room to us

A young journalist and his boyfriend have been refused accommodation by several landlords because of their sexual orientation.

Ian Begley (24) said he and his boyfriend Eric (23) have suffered repeated discrimination as they try to find a home together in Dublin.

Ian told the Herald that he hopes that speaking publicly about their plight may result in them finally succeeding in finding shared accommodation or a room in an apartment.

The couple have been living with Ian's parents in Blanchardstown.

"I would live anywhere in Dublin if we could just find a place," said Ian, who added that he met Eric, a foreign national, when they were both members of college LGBT societies 18 months ago.

Eric is an accountancy graduate seeking employment in Ireland. Ian is a reporter with the Dublin Gazette.

hell

Earlier yesterday, Ian told RTE 2fm's Ryan Tubridy that they have not found anywhere after an intensive search over the past two months.

He said the experience has been "hell on Earth".

"We've been turned down countless times by landlords who simply say they don't want to let gay couples into their home," said Ian. "The first time it was a Polish man.

"He seemed really nice, he was interested in getting to know who we are.

"On my way up he said, 'Are you and your girlfriend going to be here any time soon?' I said I'm with my boyfriend.

"There was a pause, until he said, 'You're gay guys. Oh, well, that changes everything then. I won't have gay people living in my house'."

Ian said he and Eric have continued to meet with rejection and subsequently contacted the housing charity Threshold as he felt angry and depressed at the reactions they were encountering.

"My boyfriend said there was no point in causing a fuss about it, it was in the landlord's rights to deny a premises on this basis," he said.

"A woman at Threshold said it was a Class A act of discrimination.

"She said she would recommend I sign an official complaint by filling out a form.

Vote

"But I put that on the back bench because my main priority is to find a place.

"I'd be getting emails back saying, 'We don't let gay people into our house'.

"At another potential home a landlord said, 'You're gay, are you? I'm not sure if we can allow you'.

"He went on to say, 'There's a child in the house and I'm not sure what the parents would think about it. We'd have to get all occupants of the house together and have a vote about whether you can stay'.

"He said he'll get back to us, but we could tell by his expression he wasn't enthusiastic.

"I ring up landlords and we have banter over the phone.

"Once I say I want to move in with my boyfriend, there's always that long awkward silence and an awkward laugh and then they say, 'No, unfortunately not, I don't agree with the gay lifestyle, or we wouldn't know what to expect'."

Ian added that he had received multiple email messages refusing his tenancy based solely on the fact that he was gay.

"I've got it in writing several times.

"Yesterday, there was a man who emailed me back saying, 'We don't let gay people in here, didn't you read the ad, we have a child'."

He laughed with Ryan Tubridy when he said Eric is "as gay as Christmas, he's a lovely chap" who loves Ireland.

"He's a different person since he moved here," he said.

"I'm optimistic and confident we'll get through, but it's disheartening."

aokeeffe@herald.ie

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