Faith, Sexuality and Gender Diversity in Lesotho, Swaziland and South Africa
GALA, in partnership with the Wits Centre for Diversity Studies (WiCDS), hosted a series of dialogues aimed at addressing the interest in, and growing need for, research and interventions across South Africa on how best to engage religious leaders and faith communities on sexual and gender diversity. There exists, however, an inherent complexity in approaching these necessary but difficult conversations - while LGBTI activists often lack the language needed to engage in biblical and theological debate, religious communities often experience discomfort and concern when faced with issues of sexual and gender diversity.
In order to develop more informed and nuanced LGBTI advocacy strategies around religion, dialogues were held in Lesotho, Swaziland and South Africa. These dialogues were organized with the intention that they go beyond sensitization and dialogue, to determining ways forward in terms of future advocacy that will foster the well-being of LGBT people across the region. This project will be rounded off with a “regional meeting” in Johannesburg, coordinated by GALA and WiCDS, during which representatives from the partner organisations in South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland will come together to share the findings that emerged from their respective dialogues.
A consolidated report of the findings of the respective dialogues can be downloaded here
#FeesMustFall Queer Oral History Project
In 2015 student and worker protests erupted at universities across the country. The protests came as result of proposed fee increases, and for the first time in years, saw thousands of students engage in the shutdown of universities. As the protests grew in numbers, the ideological stances of many student groups came to the fore as these were seen as integral to the collective reasoning for protest. Black Radical Feminism, Pan-Africanism and Intersectionality were the core ideologies used to explain the shutdowns.
GALA has commissioned an oral history project which will capture the narratives of Queer and LGBTQIA+ students, many of whom felt they were increasingly excluded during the 2015/16 #FeesMustFall protests as a result of hetero-patriarchy. The research is concerned with documenting the experiences of the protestors while demonstrating their presence and impact during the protests. It will also detail the kinds of involvement of the participants, and the subsequent outcomes of their involvement, in order to ensure that their narratives are not erased. Making use of interviews and focus groups to capture their narratives, this project will culminate in an academic paper.
Project: Diversity Training Manual for School Management Teams
GALA has undertaken this project with the generous help of the Aids Foundation South Africa (AFSA), the Norwegian Student’s and Academics’ International Assistance Fund (SAIH), and the Planet Wheeler Foundation.
The objective of the project is the creation of a Diversity Training Manual (originally conceptualized as a toolkit), and the subsequent facilitation of workshops aimed at sensitizing school management teams to issues of sexual orientation and gender diversity. It is intended that these measures will enable awareness amongst educators in schools on matters relating to issues of sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) with the view to making schools more inclusive and ultimately safe learning environments for all students. The principle beneficiaries of the project would therefore be learners, parents and teachers.
GALA Youth Forum
The objective of this project is to create a safe space for LGBTQIA+/Queer youth, mostly from the University of the Witwatersrand and surrounding institutions of higher education. The Youth Forum creates a platform for students to engage in conversations facilitated and lead by activists, practitioners, and community members in the LGBTQIA+ sector. It also serves as a platform allowing for meaningful dialogue and robust discussions around youth issues, which are designed to foster meaningful relationships with LGBTQIA+ youth who often lack safe spaces where they are able to talk constructively about issues they face. The topics largely come from the participants in the forum, and GALA plays a role in ensuring that the discussions have a level of continuity which would ensure ongoing engagement from the participants in the space, and in the communities which they are from. GALA also works with the Holy Trinity LGBTQIA+ Group, this space hosts many migrants from all over the continent in a fortnightly gathering to discuss issues relevant to LGBTQIA+ identifying migrants in Johannesburg.