Opening the Door:
Supporting the integration of LGBTI refugees, asylum seekers and undocumented migrants in South African society
LGBTI refugees, asylum seekers and undocumented migrants – many of whom have fled sexuality-based persecution in their countries of origin – face a range of new challenges in South Africa. Their safety and wellbeing is often threatened through acts of violence, physical and verbal harassment, community exclusion and an inability to access support services. The day-to-day reality for many LGBTI refugees is a life of fear and silence; most experience a double dose of discrimination – both from South African nationals and refugee community members – on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender nonconformity and their refugee status.
GALA’s Opening the Door initiative seeks to highlight and improve the dire conditions in which LGBTI refugees find themselves in South Africa. The project consists of two linked activities that will promote individual and joint advocacy campaigns:
- an arts-based training program for LGBTI refugees
- an issues-based training workshop for CBOs and NGOs.
Arts-based workshops have proven to be an effective tool for promoting self-agency and leadership in participants and for encouraging open dialogue about human rights. For this project, a group of LGBTI refugees in will undergo training in specific arts-based mediums – such as making posters and T-shirts – that can support human rights activism. As well as the arts-based training itself, the workshops will include an introduction to human rights, LGBTI rights, and sex and gender issues, thus providing a context for participants to examine critical issues relating to the LGBTI-refugee experience. At the conclusion of the training, participants will not only have developed a range of practical skills, they will also have gained a foundation on which to build future advocacy campaigns within their communities
The second part of the project will involve an intensive one-day training workshop for CBOs, NGOs and other service providers on issues relating to LGBTI refugees. Participants of the arts-based training will be given an opportunity to present on the problems experienced by LGBTI refugees and to discuss potential solutions. By both increasing the visibility of LGBTI refugees and raising awareness of the myriad challenges they face, the Opening the Door project will enhance the capacity of service providers to respect and promote the rights of LGBTI refugees.
An online resource and information hub for gender- and sexual orientation-based violence
The Asiphephe website project seeks to increase access to legal information and other resources on gender- and sexual orientation-based violence directed at LGBTI people in South Africa. A joint initiative of GALA and LGEP, the project will culminate in an easy-to-use online platform that brings together existing and newly created resources relating to violence against LGBTI people. Users of the website will have access to a wide range of resources, including legal information, details of clinics and shelters, and advice on accessing support services. As well as offering information to LGBTI communities and survivors of gender- and sexual orientation-based violence, the online platform will serve as an important advocacy and training tool. By filling a crucial information gap, it will also provide much-needed materials and support for individuals and organisations that deal – both directly and indirectly – with violence targeting LGTBI communities.
Ensuring that up-to-date and accurate information is publicly available is only one aspect of GALA and LGEP’s joint initiative to combat gender- and sexual orientation-based violence. The broader project also seeks to foster closer engagement with service providers and to educate and inform multiple sectors about violence directed at LGBTI people. Through both a targeted awareness-raising campaign and a series of information seminars, the project will provide NGOs and related service providers with resources and strategies for supporting LGBTI victims of violence. The project will also involve a law and policy review highlighting areas in need of reform and a digital stories DVD that will be distributed to criminal justice institutions and health service providers.
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