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Gay Irish couple refused by multiple landlords over sexual orientation

By Freya Drohan

Published 03/04/2015

Ian Begley and his boyfriend Eric
Ian Begley and his boyfriend Eric
Ian Begley and his boyfriend Eric

A young gay couple in the Republic of Ireland have been turned down by several home owners on the basis of their sexual orientation, they claim.

Ian Begley told RTE 2FM that he is unable to get a foot on the property ladder as he hopes to move in to accommodation with his boyfriend.

The 24-year-old is employed as a journalist with his local newspaper. At present, he is living in his family home with his parents, siblings, and boyfriend.

For the past two months Ian and his boyfriend of 18 months have been actively looking for a room in an apartment or shared accommodation.

He says it’s “hell on Earth”, as many factors are going against them.

“My boyfriend is a recent accounting graduate, he’s currently unemployed so it's not the ideal situation to move out.

“We’ve been persistently looking, but we've been turned down countless times by landlords who say they don't want to let gay couples into their home.

“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 anytime soon,’ I said I’m with my boyfriend. There was a pause, until he said, ‘You’re gay guys. Oh well, that changes everything. I won’t have gay people living in my house.’”

Ian contacted the housing charity Threshold as he felt angry and depressed at the reactions they were being met with.

“My boyfriend said there was no point in causing a fuss about it, it was in the landlords rights to deny a premises on this basis.

“A women at Threshold said that it was a Class A act of discrimination. She said she would recommend I sign an official complaint by filling out a form, but I put that on the back bench because my main priority is to find a place.”

Ian told RTE 2FM the couple have continued to be met with rejection.

“I’d be getting emails back saying we don't let gay people into our house. A Moldavian landlord said, ‘You’re gay are you? I’m not sure if we can allow you. 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 emails 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."

Ryan added that on paper, many factors are not helping Ian and his boyfriend gain accommodation.

“Your boyfriend is gay and unemployed - it’s not a good look, for someone who is very conservative looking at what’s coming up the garden path.”

“You’d know he’s gay...his persona, the way he dresses, he’s gay as Christmas, he's a lovely chap,” Ian laughed.

“He loves Ireland, he’s a different person since he moved here."

Ian concluded that he continues to search for a place to live every day, as he spends most of his free time trawling property websites.

"I'm optimistic and confident we’ll get through it but its disheartening."

Irish Independent

Irish Independent

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