Heritage Day is one of South Africa’s most distinct Celebration. It is a celebration of culture, traditional and diversity and in the wider context, the nation to which we belong. Embracing diversity includes recognizing each persons individuality.
Words: Access Chapter 2
Gender and sexual diversity were celebrated during pre-colonial Africa among some indigenous groups and therefore promoting the heritage of Africa is also recognizing that homosexuality is not UnAfrican. Human rights, respect, and dignity are not UnAfrican. It is embracing the spirit of Ubuntu and rearranging a discriminatory social system to create a more inclusive country for the next generation.
LGBTI people across Africa continue to suffer from unfair laws, discrimination, and stigma due to their sexual orientation and / or gender identity. 31 out of 55 countries in Africa have retained colonial laws that oppress and prevent LGBTI people from enjoying basic liberties and freedoms. In the face of oppression, LGBTI persons in these country are forced to flee their homes for safety in South Africa, which remains the only country in Africa with explicit and laws fully protecting every individual from discrimination.
LGBTI people across Africa perceive South Africa as a haven of peace where they can fully experience their sexuality and / or their gender identity. African asylum seekers who fled their country to escape prejudice against homosexuality are however far from finding a dream life in South Africa. They are exposed to lack of access to health care, lack of employment opportunities and discrimination due to their sexual orientation and / or gender identity, but also, xenophobia. The Covid 19 pandemic has elevated these challenges and has left many migrants displaced. During lockdown we saw an influx of homelessness. LGBTI migrants who are not South African have limited access to shelter and food security and did not have the option to return home. Coordinators of Access Chapter 2’s migrant programme Raphael Dou’a commented “We have seen a rise in demand for food and shelter in the past few months. Most shelters require migrants to have a South African ID leaving many on the streets. Access to emergency shelter and safety is a big issue”
On this Heritage Day, Access Chapter 2 joins the rest of South Africa in celebrating diversity regardless of birth, nationality, culture, tradition, gender identity and sexual orientation.
For more information contact Raphael on: 010 100 3177 or firstname.lastname@example.org.