LGBTI Refugee Advocacy

There are a large number of ‘sexual refugees’ in this country and they are among the most marginalised and discriminated social group in South Africa. Through this program, PASSOP advocates for the rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) asylum-seekers and refugees, assists them with paralegal advice and empowers this social group by building a support network. PASSOP advocates for the rights of all refugees, asylum-seekers and immigrants in this country, and it is high time that the plight of LGBTI refugees and asylum-seekers is highlighted and supported.

Homophobia is a serious issue all across Africa. In many countries, LGBTI people face constant harassment and harsh punishments, ranging from fines and imprisonments to death, solely for expressing their sexual orientation or gender identity.  This unjust reality in countries ranging from Uganda to Malawi has led to an influx of sexual refugees fleeing to South Africa, one of the progressive countries that does grant refugee status on the basis of sexual orientation.

However, despite South Africa’s official position, the asylum application process is fraught with problems and a lack of transparency, and many LGBTI refugees are being turned away unjustly. Moreover, those who are granted status still often face discrimination and harassment in their new communities in South Africa. When xenophobia is compounded with homophobia, it leaves many gay and transgender immigrants in conditions not unlike those in the countries they fled in the first place.

Recognizing the vulnerability of their particular situation, this program provides support and advocacy for this social group. Specifically, the programs principal objectives are to:

  • assist LGBTI refugees and asylum-seekers with paralegal advice regarding documentation and labour issues;
  • raise awareness around the plight of LGBTI refugees and asylum-seekers in South Africa;
  • monitor the South African government’s performance in the asylum-seeker and refugee determination processes to ensure that it is true to its commitment to sexual refugees;
  • build up a solidarity network to unite LGBTI refugees, asylum-seekers and immigrants and provide them with outlets for emotional support and counselling; and
  • in partnership with other LGBTI rights organizations, to promote understanding and tolerance within their communities in order to ensure their safety and integration.

The hope is that the program will help to empower these refugees and asylum seekers to engage in gay refugee rights activism and ensure that South Africa lives out its constitutional protection for the rights of gay men and women.

If you have any questions or would like more information on this program, please contact office@passop.co.za.

5 responses to “LGBTI Refugee Advocacy

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