Gay asylum seekers speak of discrimination

2012-06-27 14:33

Cape Town - Gay African asylum seekers struggle to find work and battle homophobic discrimination in South Africa, the continent's only nation to allow same-sex marriage, a report showed on Tuesday.

Interviews with 25 Africans by a Cape Town NGO found that 90% were jobless and that nearly all felt unsafe because of their sexuality or gender identity despite having fled their own countries to escape being targeted.

"There seems to be a lingering gap between the dreams and expectation that fuelled refugees' journeys to South Africa and the lived experiences that they have encountered here," said the People Against Suffering Oppression and Poverty (Passop) study.

"They arrived with big hopes and dreams however, for many, those dreams have not yet been fulfilled. They anticipated a better life in South Africa, free of homophobia and hate crimes, but that has not been the case."

Low-income townships, where shocking incidents of lesbians targeted for "corrective rape" are reported, were seen as the most dangerous areas and black and coloured people seen as the most homophobic.


Strong anti-foreigner attitudes also had made integration difficult, the report said.

Negative experiences while applying for asylum were high and only 14 interviewees stated sexual orientation as a reason, despite South Africa recognising this as a basis for granting refuge.

Officials also ridiculed some of them or asked inappropriate questions.

"Sometimes they laughed at me with the interpreter and tried to persuade me to cease being gay. They wanted to know more about how I felt being attracted to people of the same sex as me," a lesbian said.

The biggest reason for not finding work was discrimination, while more than half said they did not have the right documentation. Only two of the 25 had official refugee status.

A fifth of those interviewed said they traded sexual favours for money in order to survive, and nine pointed to hiding their sexual or gender identity during job interviews.

A transgender participant told of being selected for an interview where "they warned me to stop making gestures and talking like a girl. Since then, they have never called me".

Gays have equal rights under South Africa's constitution but levels of acceptance remain a challenge on the ground, with discrimination, harassment and violence.

  • eugene.meyer1980 - 2012-06-27 15:00

    Seriously?!?!?!? WTF!!! now we get gay asylum seekers??? Im not anti gay, but really. WHat is this all about now??? How do they control this at the border? Someone shows up and say, "Hiiii, Im gay, please can I stay" Im probably going to get blasted for this but really. WTF is this world coming too? Gay asylum seekers...whats next???

      Squeegee - 2012-06-27 15:03

      I wonder if they are any worse off than any foreigner from Africa coming here. Does the Ghanaian say " I'm not gay" and then get the job?

      crazyjourno - 2012-06-27 15:10

      Kry vir jou gay pelle, dan probeer jy verstaan voor jy klippe gooi oor dit waarvan jy absoluuut niks weet nie!!

      somikazi.pita - 2012-06-27 15:32

      Lol...I don't get it either.

      eugene.meyer1980 - 2012-06-27 15:48

      Okay, I dont think you guys quite understand what Im saying. We live in a world where gay people have to go and seek asylum??? Seriously?!?! And by the way, I have gay friends. And how do they process this at the border??? Is there a test they do to confirm this person is indeed gay??? If so, what is this test? What is stopping every other person from coming into the country??? Im not sayin I hate gays, or anything close to it. Im saying, WTF is happeing in this world now? How on earth did it come to where gay people have to seek asylum???

      janalbert.vandenberg - 2012-06-27 16:11

      I think it has to do with people's actions and how the locals interpret their behaviours. No 'test', just people's perceptions...

  • eric.martinsich - 2012-06-27 15:43

    QUESTION! QUESTION! QUESTION! Why are people going around saying that they are "GAY" I do not go around saying that i am Straight. So, apply for the job, go for youyr interviews and if you can prove that you are been discriminated againts due to sexual preferences then go to a human rights group and fight your case in court. I have gone for interviews and not got the job and I am straight. Stop pushing your sexual preferences everywhere you go all other citizens.

      janalbert.vandenberg - 2012-06-27 16:07

      People aren't going around saying they are "GAY" mate; as far as I can tell from the article, it's what interviewers infer from potential employee's behaviours. If you are discriminated against for being white it should be equally offensive as if you are discriminated against based on your behaviours during the interview, except maybe if you are being blatantly rude. Somehow I get the feeling this is not the case... Anyhoo.

      Tommo - 2012-06-27 17:34

      @Eric. Straight people always say they are straight. We just so used to it we don't hear it. Me and my wife... Me and my husband... The kids and their father...

  • Tommo - 2012-06-27 17:08

    Here we are very very far behind. Our constitution provides the best for everyone. Our people take time to change. Of course gay people deserve asylum. Try being gay in Zimbabwe. Death penalty in Uganda. We stand firm!

  • emile.vanrayner.7 - 2012-06-27 20:35

    live a certain way long enough and you become accustomed to it eventually. i live in a community where gays are ridiculed to an extent, but never blatantly discriminated against or hurt in any physical way. they also tend to opt for jobs where it is more socially acceptable to be gay ie: retail, marketing etc; instead of something like construction. they seem to be quite happy so i never thought that gays had that much trouble living in sa... i guess i was sorely mistaken

  • junior.e.mayema - 2012-06-28 18:50

    it is so sad the level of homophobia in a so-called gay-friendly country like South Africa please check out the picture where i was beaten like a snake in SA because of homophobia

  • junior.e.mayema - 2012-06-28 18:52

    it is so sad the level of homophobia in South Africa please check out the picture where i was beaten like a Snake in Sa Cape Town because of homophobia and the police failed to protect me because i am an alien , a foreigner and a gay because of of the policemen come from the township where homophobia is rampant

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