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New Frame reviews our report on LGBTI+ access to asylum in South Africa

In a review of our new report, Jan Bornman writes: “[H]ome affairs officials consistently fell short in a number of legal obligations when reviewing the applications of LGBTQIA+ asylum seekers, contravening elements of several pieces of legislation.”

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UN New York Declaration

Yesterday, the 19th of September 2016, world leaders came together at the United Nations General Assembly to adopt the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants – a declaration that expresses the political will of world leaders to protect the rights of refugees and migrants.

By adopting the New York Declaration, UN Member States are making bold commitments to: develop guidelines on the treatment of migrants in vulnerable situations; start negotiations of an international conference and the adoption of a global agreement for safe and orderly migration in 2018; and lastly, to hold more responsibility for hosting and supporting the world’s refugees by adopting a global compact on refugees in 2018.

Within the New York Declaration, a joint initiative aimed at increasing private sponsorship of refugees has been agreed upon between the Government of Canada, the Open Society Foundations, and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Since the 1970’s, the Canadian government has promoted the resettlement of more than 275,000 privately sponsored refugees, and even currently helping to support and integrate many refugees in Canada’s recent Syrian resettlement program. Privately sponsored refugees have been shown to have positive settlement results as well as relatively early integration within the communities due to the increased support from their private sponsors. Using Canada as a model, the United Nations hopes to increase private sponsorship of refugees throughout the globe.

In addition to the New York Declaration, the Secretary-General of the United Nations also launched a new campaign as a response to the rising xenophobia called: “Together – Respect, Safety and Dignity for All.” The campaign highlights the economic, cultural and social contributions that migrants and refugees make to countries of origin, transit and destination. It will also counter misinformation and misperception of refugees and migrant by encouraging contact between migrants, refugees and those in the destination countries. He urged world leaders and UN member states to join this campaign as a commitment of upholding the rights and dignity of all refugees searching for a better life.

Want to read more about this? Use the following links:

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New Report – Economic injustice: Employment and Housing Discrimination Against LGBTI Refugees and Asylum Seekers in South Africa

This report seeks to raise awareness of the discrimination that LGBTI refugees and asylum seekers face in the South African employment and housing markets. Discriminatory practices against the LGBTI community and foreigners, coupled with the lack of enforcement of existing anti-discrimination laws, create barriers to employment and housing for LGBTI refugees and asylum seekers. The South African asylum process further hinders LGBTI asylum seekers’ access to stable and secure housing and employment.


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COSATU and PASSOP call on Minister Naledi Pandor to Give Amnesty to Immigrant Farmworkers and Caution Premier Zille

We are shocked by dangerous attempts by farm owners to divide workers and to provoke xenophobia in cheap attempts to divide workers. We call for a documentation amnesty, to avoid blood shed and mass displacement. We are also shocked by the irresponsible tweets and comments by Western Cape Premier Helen Zille.

We call on the Minister of Home Affairs to give amnesty from documentation requirements of workers in the area for the next 3 months.

We are shocked that the farm owners in De Doorns, who appear hell bent on discrediting and undermining the legitimate workers strike, have today made serious attempts to create anarchy, xenophobia and violent divisions among the community of workers. Farm owners and management have continuously made claims that non-workers were responsible for the strike and now they have proven that it is them, the farm owners, who are responsible for trying to create violent chaos.

Workers returned to work today, as part of an agreement made by stakeholders, government, representatives of both the farm workers and farm bosses, but they were met with hostility, abuse and many were turned away. Agreements to pay a minimum of R80 a day and not to take disciplinary actions against strikers were all ignored.

Of most concern farm bosses today openly resorted to targeting Sotho and South African workers, a move that appears to be part of a bigger plan to create tensions between Sotho, South Africans and Zimbabweans. As thousands of people returned to work farm bosses refused to accept Sotho and South African workers claiming falsely that they are not allowed to work without asylum seekers documents and others refused to accept workers claiming they had been fired.

We were shocked when the premier of the Western Cape, Helen Zille, on twitter, openly blamed tensions between Sotho and Zimbabweans for the strike that swept across the Western Cape, starting in De Doorns. Another tweet by the premier claimed that certain immigrants were undocumented and she again stated that this was one of the causes of the strike; this all appears to be part of a calculated attempt to discredit the strike and/or possibly incite tensions between local immigrants and local labour. The premiers tweets can be seen beneath this statement.

We call on farm owners and labour brokers to stop seeking workers of particular nationalities when sourcing workers. We are also extremely concerned about reports of farmer owners wanting to only employ “coloured” workers in some areas (outside De Doorns).

We call upon the minister of home affairs to implement an amnesty for 3 months on documentation requirements of immigrants working in the area to avoid serious blood shed and tensions between different immigrants and South African workers. Now is too volatile a time to be implementing the immigration act and farm owners who have previously employed undocumented workers for years are now dividing workers using documentation as an excuse.

Such an amnesty is not unheard of, in 2009 when all the Zimbabweans were displaced in De Doorns the undocumented were not deported. Also in 2008 following the mass displacement of immigrants across South Africa the then minister of home affairs provided a temporary permit on application to displaced undocumented immigrants. Previously this was done instead of deporting them for humanitarian and moral reasons, we believe that such an amnesty should not occur only after mass displacement, but should be used to avoid mass displacement in this complex situation.


Statement on behalf of the following organisations:


For comment contact: Michael Louw on 082 339 5443 or Braam Hanekom on 084 319 1764

Premier Helen Zille’s tweets:

At 12:00 on the 8/11/12 “@helenzille: Complex dynamics in De Doorns. Lesotho seasonal workers no longer employed, but Zim workers legally employed due to amnesty. Huge tension.”

At 8:00am on the 16/11/12 “@helenzille: This was the spark in De Doorns. “@SiphoSimelane: Basotho farm workers are angry with Zimbabweans who get preferential treatment.”

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Still Concerned 3 Years After Mass De Doorns Displacement

PASSOP concerned 3 years after De Doorns mass displacement of 3000 Zimbabweans

We are worried about the safety of immigrants in rural farming communities, particularly in De Doorns

  •  We call upon political leaders to act with caution when they talk about immigrant workers and we strongly reject claims that strikes were started because of tensions between Sotho and Zimbabwean. These reckless remarks could provoke tensions and become a self-fulfilling prophecy if continually broadcasted publicly by politicians.
  • We also reject and are concerned by political leaders who could incite xenophobic tensions by recklessly drawing attention to documentation problems of immigrants at this sensitive time. Such comments are very dangerous.
  • We call on security companies, especially a company called Vetus Schola, which advertises itself as enabling “non-striking personnel to cross picket lines”, to not fuel tensions between immigrants and South Africans. We think it is reckless to place immigrants at the forefront of the protection of bosses during strike actions.
  • We call on farm owners and labour brokers to stop seeking workers of particular nationalities when sourcing workers. We are also concerned about reports of farm owners wanting to employ only “coloured” and not “black” workers in some areas (outside De Doorns)- potentially fueling conflict between races.
  • We call on the department of home affairs, who have clearly failed to ensure that immigrants are documented, not to interfere in De Doorns until the dust settles. The situation is volatile and their random deportations are leading to serious tensions.
  • We call upon the police to stop using immigration charges against striking workers, creating serious problems.
  •  We call for the release of all non-violent striking workers who are charged under the gathering act and strikers who are being held under the immigration act.
  • We again call on government; NGOs and all stakeholders to bring aid to alleviate the humanitarian crisis that many people living in De Doorns are facing. In addition to food and basic commodities, many people have not been able to access their ARV’s and have not been able to access TB treatment, as the local clinic has been shut for over 2 weeks.


On November the 17th of 2009, at 6am a disaster unraveled, thousands of Zimbabweans streamed into town after being displaced from the township. They fled a violent attack on them and ultimately ended up spending 11 months living on a rugby field.  As an organisation with strong grassroots links, we were the first NGO to warn of the imminent disaster.  We tried everything we could to ensure that a disaster was avoided, but to no avail. Instead we found ourselves on the ground helplessly trying to negotiate with violent crowds, essentially observers to the mass displacement.

3 years later, PASSOP, still active on the ground, noted that worker frustrations on farms in De Doorns were at an all time high. As PASSOP, we believed that working conditions and treatment of workers were often unacceptable and therefore openly sided with workers. We also decided to involve ourselves in peaceful attempts by workers to negotiate better wages. There were 3 peaceful strikes that were prior to the now well-known mass strike of workers on farms in De Doorns. From the onset, we were involved to ensure that immigrants, especially Zimbabweans (as they had previously been displaced), would not be seen to be undermining the strikes or seen to be scab labour. We can confidently say we were extremely careful. We also worked hard to ensure that the ongoing and serious documentation problems faced by immigrant workers were not used to divide the community and to make immigrants undermine any workers strike actions. If the community saw Zimbabweans, or immigrants, as undermining the strikes there would have been mass displacement and possibly much blood shed.

In the weeks before the mass strike, we held several meetings and events, including a healing ceremony to reflect on the death of some Zimbabweans after conflict erupted between the local Sotho and Zimbabweans about 4 years ago. The event included the slaughtering of a sheep and a feast for all Sotho, South Africans and Zimbabweans who attended. Thousands attended the event and integration was largely achieved. It is therefore our view that tensions between the Zimbabweans, Sotho and South Africans were at an all time low when this mass strike began.

During one of the strikes, the management of a farm called Royal Mushrooms, notorious for abusing its workers, called the police and demanded that they arrest immigrants among their own striking workers who were undocumented. Surprisingly a large crowd gathered to protest against their arrest and the crowd was comprised mostly of South African workers. It is therefore our view that tensions between locals and immigrants were the lowest they had been in five years, because workers had joined hands to negotiate better working conditions and wages. The reckless arrests by police and attempts to deport striking workers by home affairs were at the time slammed by COSATU and PASSOP.  (As a result of the farmer reporting himself as employing undocumented workers he was heavily fined, leading him to claim that home affairs was clamping down on farmers.)

We have seen many farm owners, labour brokers and politicians trying to blame NGOs, political parties, unions, tensions between locals and immigrants, problems with documentation and even the media for strikes in the farming sector, but think that these are all attempts to talk about issues other than the real issue of wages and working conditions.

We know that there are many factors and many role players in this strike of workers on farms, but are absolutely convinced that the action in De Doorns was a result of genuine frustrations among workers who wanted higher wages and also respect from their employers. We condemn all violence and damage to property that has occurred, but believe that such chaos could have been avoided if the farm owners had meaningfully engaged their workers around the concerns they had.

We hope that our appeals are taken seriously by stakeholders and possible future disasters avoided.

Contact: Langton Miriyoga on 084 026 9658 or Braam Hanekom on 084 319 1764

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Support The Cause: Buy a PASSOP T-Shirt!

PASSOP have finished designing and printing a new range of t-shirts! Show your support by purchasing a tee shirt, all proceeds go towards helping us to continue to fight for the rights of refugees in South Africa! Prices to be confirmed… watch this space!

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Press Statement: Uganda Unjustly Bans NGOs

Press Statement


Uganda Unjustly Bans NGOs for Promoting Gay Rights as Human Rights PASSOP, Triangle Project, Gender DynamiX, Free Gender, SWEAT call for the immediate attention of the South African Government to publicly express its disagreement and stand against the Ugandan Government decision.

Uganda has announced a ban on 38 non-governmental organisations it accuses of undermining the national culture by promoting homosexuality. Simon Lokodo, the country’s ethics and integrity minister, claimed the NGOs were receiving support from abroad for Uganda’s homosexuals and “recruiting” young children into homosexuality. LBGTI people face discrimination and violence in Uganda, along with more than 30 other countries in Africa. An Anti-Homosexuality Law which remains pending in Parliament risks further entrenching discrimination by criminalising the “promotion” of homosexuality, as well as making it compulsory for all Ugandans to report knowledge of any LGBTI person, or face a possible three years’ jail sentence.

The unjust reality for LGBTI people living in countries like Uganda is constant harassment and harsh punishments, ranging from fines and imprisonments to death, solely for expressing their sexual orientation or gender identity. This outrageous ban of NGOs in Uganda has no basis in law, and the continued harassment of human rights activists is an egregious violation of human rights law to which Uganda is a party. The continued persecution of LGBTI rights activists by the Ugandan authorities is unacceptable and we will not watch quietly as our African brothers and sisters suffer senselessly. Therefore PASSOP LGBTI Advocacy Project in conjunction with other LGBTI NGO’s in Cape Town vigorously condemn this practice and call for the immediate attention of the international community to join together against the senseless banning of human rights NGO’s in Uganda.

For Information, Please Contact:

PASSOP, Guillain Koko on 078 5029 626
Triangle Project, Jayne Arnott on 083 2560443
Gender DynamiX, Sibusiso Kheswa on 021 633 5287
Free Gender Funeka Soldat 076 32 10 276
SWEAT, George on 0730307660

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FREE English Classes Offered

Press Statement


FREE English Classes for LGBTI Refugees and Asylum Seekers at PASSOP

TESOL Cape Town (TCT) has agreed to donate their time to offer FREE English Classes to LGBTI refugees and asylum seekers. Strengthening the language capabilities of LGBTI refugees and asylum seekers improves their ability to apply for documentation, find employment, and acquire housing. PASSOP and TCT are committed to supporting the successful integration of LGBTI refugees and asylum seekers in South Africa.

Please Contact PASSOP Office at 021 820 4664 or Guillain Koko at 078 502 9626 for the class schedule and further information.

For more information at TESOL Cape Town, please visit or contact
Matthew at 021 839 2819.

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Press Statement: “A Dream Deferred” LGBTI Report Launch

Press Statement



A Dream Deferred- “Is the Equality Clause in the South African Constitution’s Bill of Rights just a far-off hope for LGBTI Asylum Seekers and Refugees?”


 PASSOP will launch a new report from its LGBTI Refugee Support and Advocacy Project on Tuesday June 26th, from 14:00 to 16:00 at the IDASA House, 6 Spin Street, Cape Town City Centre. The report launch will include a panel discussion with LRC, Triangle Project, Gender DynamiX and Free Gender.  Members of the press are invited to attend.

In 38 African countries, Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) people are persecuted because of their sexual orientation and gender identity. As a result, many are fleeing their country of origin to South Africa where they hope to find greater safety, freedom and happiness. However, once in South Africa, a nation that upholds the rights of its LGBTI citizens, refugees and asylum seekers are faced with a variety of challenges including: accommodation, employment, safety, integration, and documentation. The LGBTI Refugee Support and Advocacy Project at PASSOP took notice of this growing issue in its new report, “A Dream Deferred: Is the Equality Clause in the South African Constitution’s Bill of Rights just a far-off hope for LGBTI Asylum Seekers and Refugees?”.

During an interactive discussion, PASSOP will address the difficulties faced by LGBTI refugees and asylum seekers in South Africa and also offer recommendations for the national government, NGOs, and other stakeholders to improve the human rights conditions for this vulnerable group.  PASSOP’s new report represents an initial attempt to document the experiences of homophobia and discrimination of LGBTI refugees and asylum seekers in South Africa. It is because of human rights violation and discrimination in their home countries that African LGBTI persons come to South Africa seeking freedom, yet even here they continue to face many of the same difficulties they had hoped to leave behind. We insist that the South African government owns up to the Constitution’s Bill of Rights, and finally make their dreams a reality.

For Information, Please Contact:

Guillain Koko on 078 5029 626

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Donations Received for our Disabled Childrens Support Project

We at PASSOP are elated to express our profound gratitude to the following donors who have contributed magnanimously to our Disabled Children’s Support Project. We want everyone to join us in thanking them for their gift of warmth and hope. Their donations have brought smiles on the faces of our 50 disabled children and their families. Thanks to the Clothing BankMRASA and KarenThey are the great givers who made the souls of our little ones to blossom.

 At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.

– Albert Schweitzer