COLORS OF CAPE TOWN: Solidarity with LGBTI refugees

In many African countries, LGBTI people are persecuted because of their sexual orientation and gender identity. Homosexuality is illegal in 38 of the 54 African countries, and four countries enforce the death penalty for persons who identify as homosexual or transgender. African LGBTI people in extreme danger in their home country flee to South Africa to find refuge, as their constitution is the most progressive in the region. However, the lived reality after arrival is far from desirable.

LGBTI refugees face extreme challenges after relocating to South Africa. They are doubly marginalized, as they are not accepted into their own refugee communities because of their sexual orientation/gender identity nor are they accepted into LGBTI communities because they are foreigners. They encounter homophobia, xenophobia, violence, discrimination, and abuse by the general population, their own refugee communities, as well as the police and government officials. They struggle to find employment due to lack of proper documentation (which is often denied to them based on their sexual orientation/gender identity) or they are fired once their sexuality (or in some cases HIV status) is revealed. Many are kicked out of shelters, rejected from housing, and denied medical services all because of homophobia.

This must end.

COLORS OF CAPE TOWN: Solidarity with LGBTI Refugees

PASSOP is hosting a community-building and awareness-raising event on Saturday July 23rd. The aim is to promote understanding and tolerance, as well as further the integration of LGBTI refugees into the larger LGBTI community here in Cape Town. There will be an array of speakers:

-People who work directly with the community speaking on the specific challenges LGBTI refugees face

-LGBTI refugees who will selflessly share their personal stories

-Community leaders who will promote the message of empowerment

Exhibition of award winning photographer Robin Hammond’s “Where Love is Illegal” project

The event will be free and open to the public. Among those encouraged to come will be: Police, Department of Home Affairs, Department of Labor, community leaders, church leaders, LGBTI organizations, South African media.

Our hope is that the event will encourage LGBTI refugee rights activism, empower the community, and be educational for those outside the community.

Please join us at:

The Nest
129 Longmarket Street
Saturday July 23
6pm – 10pm

Free food, cash bar

Lesotho Permit Extended

South African Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba has extended the deadline for the Lesotho special permit. After receiving an underwhelming amount of permits, the Minister has extended the deadline to September 30, 2016. There are more than 400,000 Basotho’s living in South Africa who are undocumented, but have the potential to receive documentation from the government. This program will pardon those who are in possession of falsified documents and will receive legal documents. This permit program is essential to obtaining legal documents and should be utilized by all.

To read more about the permit, please click here.

Important Notice for Asylum Seekers


On 7 June 2016 the LRC received a let­ter from the attor­neys for the Depart­ment of Home Affairs inform­ing us that they will be appeal­ing the order granted in our favour on 3 June 2016.

That let­ter also indi­cated that the LRC should inform its clients that none of their per­mits will be extended at the Cape Town Refugee Recep­tion Office (CTRRO) and none of their files will be trans­ferred while the appeal is still pend­ing.

The order given in the Nbaya case ordered the Cape Town RRO to renew the per­mits of asy­lum seek­ers whose per­mits were first applied for at other RROs (Pre­to­ria, Musina and Dur­ban). It specif­i­cally said that the CTRRO must renew the per­mits of those asy­lum seek­ers that had approached the LRC’s offices, and whose names were on a list of over 2 500 peo­ple that had been sub­mit­ted to the court by the LRC. It also said that the CTRRO must do the same for ‘all per­sons sim­i­larly sit­u­ated’.

If this order was car­ried out, it would effec­tively mean that the CTRRO must renew the per­mit of any­one enti­tled to a renewal, even if that per­mit was not first issued in Cape Town.

The let­ter from the Depart­ment of Home Affairs attor­neys indi­cates that the CTRRO will not be doing that.

An appeal can take a num­ber of months as it will more than likely go to the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) in Bloem­fontein. It first has to be granted an appeal date in Bloem­fontein, then the appeal will have to be attended and argued by both the LRC and the attor­neys for the Depart­ment. There­after, the SCA judges will have to deliver a judg­ment, which isn’t likely to be on the same day as the appeal hear­ing.

In the time that it takes for all of that to hap­pen, the fastest and only way that an asy­lum seeker with a per­mit first issued out­side of Cape Town will be able to renew his or her per­mit is for that per­son to travel back to their orig­i­nal RRO and renew their per­mit there.

In the mean­time, the LRC intends apply­ing to the Court for a spe­cific order that says that Home Affairs must imple­ment the order while their appeal is pend­ing. Once this is done, we will update accord­ingly.

World Refugee Day 2016

Human rights organization PASSOP welcomes World Refugee Day as we commend the courage of those forced to flee their countries as a result of war, oppression, persecution and other human rights violations. The UNHCR Global Trend report states that currently 6.5 million people are forced to flee their homes. We celebrate the global community’s efforts in working towards securing the rights and safety of displaced peoples.

Today, we struggle with addressing the rights of people who are forced to flee their country of origin. The long-standing debate continues over who qualifies as a refugee. This reality severely hampers the humanitarian efforts aimed at protecting and defending the lives of displaced peoples around the world. The UNHCR defines a refugee as someone “who has a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group.” It is imperative to highlight that the narrow definition of refugee has made it difficult for the displaced to receive basic human rights. Those forced to migrate due to economic issues and climate change rarely receive proper documentation. As a result, those who are not granted refugee status are detained, deported, or denied healthcare, education and the proper permits to work.

At a time when those seeking refugee status is at a record high it is of the upmost importance to shine a light on the world’s progress in fighting for the rights and safety of all displaced people. We applaud not only the nations, but also their citizens who have opened their doors to refugees in order to allow them a safe space to dream again. We at PASSOP would like to take the opportunity, to express our love and admiration for each and everyone one of these heroes. Further, on this World Refugee Day, we challenge everyone to stand together as a beacon of light to those oppressed and persecuted everywhere so that they understand they are not alone, and the world can become a brighter place.

We Stand With Orlando

South African based human rights organization People Against Suffering Oppression and Poverty (PASSOP) offers our deepest and most heartfelt condolences to the families, friends and communities affected by the horrific event that took place at Pulse in Orlando, Florida. We would like to express our profound shock and sorrow as we join millions across the globe in grieving for those who lost their lives.

PASSOP continues to stand in solidarity and support with the LGBTQ community, and also continues to stand up against Islamaphobia. As an organization based outside of the United States we cannot claim to know any intricate details of what transpired, but we can see clearly that such a tragedy must be handled very carefully to bring people together, not to divide them. It is our plea to the people during this painful time, that they resist the demonization of any community and that they remind the world of our humanity and interconnectedness. If there is to be a focus of frustration let it be on the ease at which the perpetrator was able to access such heavy artillery.

There has been a long and tragic history of violence at LGBTQ bars and clubs in the United States (and many other countries); we can only imagine how triggering this event has been on the community. It is already difficult to exist in this world as a minority, something both the Muslim community and the LGBTQ community know well, such terrible violation of your safe space must be devastating, we send our deepest sympathies to both these communities. We support the movement in the United States to pass effective gun control laws, and hope to see that day soon.

PASSOP wants to reiterate its commitment to advancing peace and the condemnation of violence and hatred. We further reject attempts to generalize any community based on the actions of individuals, we call upon media, particularly media within the US, to be careful in their coverage of this horrific event and to avoid further hate or creating stigma of and tensions between two vulnerable communities.

We join the absolute majority of the world when we say “let us stand together in the fight against homophobia, xenophobia, Islamaphobia, hate and senseless violence.”

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As we remember the heroic youth in South Africa who died for freedom on June 16th 1976, we will be joining the vigil in solidarity with the people of Orlando and the world. Please join us.

Thursday 16 June 2016, at the Pride Shelter: 1 Molteno rd, Oranjezicht, 5:30pm