Pietermaritzburg GLN opens advice office

2015-05-21 06:00

THE Gay and Lesbian Network (GLN) in Pietermaritzburg recently opened an advice office in Edendale, the aim of which is to cater for those who cannot get to their offices in town.

GLN director Anthony Waldhausen, said that there was a growing need to reach out to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual and intersex (LGBTI) people in their communities.

“This advice centre is part of the GLN outreach programme where we have identified the need to take our services into communities that need it.”

He said the idea is to create a safe place within these communities where LGBTI people can address the issues and challenges they face every day.

“There are many people who cannot afford to come to our offices, so in order for us to assist them we have to go to them. The advice centre allows the LGBTI community to have a voice and become independent members able to deal with various societal issues they will face,” he said.

Waldhausen said GLN has engaged with the relevant stakeholders in the Edendale community including religious leaders, ward councillors and community police forum members to sensitise them to LGBTI issues.

The advice centre is the first of its kind and is a model formed by the Pietermaritzburg GLN. There are plans to roll out centres in Escourt, Greytown, Howick and Newcastle with LGBTI groups in those areas eager to start addressing community needs.

Waldhausen said there is still a lot of stigma attached to LGBTI people.

“People are still shunned by others, suffer with low self- esteem and find it difficult to get access to sexual health services because they are gay or lesbian. Although we have come far, there is still so much to do in terms of educating others about LGBTI people.”

The advice centre offers AIDS counselling and testing and assists with sexual health services and education.

“We will continue to educate and sensitise the public about LGBTI people. We have been received positively thus far and plan to continue until we have dispelled the age-old stigmas,” said Waldhausen.

With the expansion of the GLN, the organisation is loking for bigger office space. For more information contact Waldhausen on 033 342 6165

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