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The Ongoing Fight for LGBTQI+ Equality in South Africa

The Ongoing Fight for LGBTQI+ Equality in South Af... The Ongoing Fight for LGBTQI+ Equality in South Af...

Despite legal protections for queer and trans individuals, there is still an ongoing fight for LGBTQI+ equality in South Africa. Access Chapter 2 (AC2) is a human rights organization established in 2003, focusing on protecting and promoting the rights of LGBTQI+ individuals in South Africa. AC2 confronts ongoing stigma, violence, and legal barriers to ensure full equality and support for the LGBTQI+ community.

Although South Africa has made progressive strides in legislation protecting the LGBTQI+ community, queer and trans people still experience stigma, violence, and harassment. Organizations like AC2 provide critical support to the LGBTQI+ community through social services, legal assistance, and advocacy. 

AC2 supports women and girls, and people living with, or vulnerable to, HIV and tuberculosis, and assists queer migrants who are navigating the asylum system in South AfricaThey believe human rights are the foundation of a just and compassionate society, a belief rooted in their work with diverse and vulnerable individuals seeking healthcare services.  AC2 also operates a clinic providing legal services and psychosocial support. They monitor and support court cases affecting queer people and their families.

In addition to providing individual support, AC2 pursues advocacy work that includes training of police officers, teachers, students, doctors and nurses on LGBTQI+ issues. Rainbow Railroad provided funding to AC2 in 2022, enabling them to reach more people and amplify their advocacy efforts. 

Looking Ahead: Reaching Rural LGBTQI+ Communities

AC2 aims to expand its reach to people in rural areas who lack access to services. They aspire to have offices in all nine provinces of South Africa, which would make a significant difference. Currently, they have fully functional offices in two provinces and paralegals in two additional provinces.

Mrs. Noxolo Mguni, Legal Associate, Access Chapter 2, describes the most rewarding part of the organization’s work as when a migrant finally receives their documentation and no longer has to live in fear. The most challenging aspects are engaging with state governments for prolonged court processes and the emotional toll of the work.

To queer individuals facing difficulty, Noxolo reflects, “Making a difference starts with you. Don’t tolerate any harassment or violations—report any misconduct. Many matters go unreported, but if they were reported, they could lead to changes in laws and policies. People need to know that we will not accept any human rights violations.”

Addressing the government, Noxolo says, “I would ask them to ensure their officials are sensitized and to pass the hate crimes bill.”

Working in Solidarity for LGBTQI+ Equality in South Africa

Noxolo appreciates supporters of Rainbow Railroad, explaining that increased support for organizations like Rainbow Railroad also benefits organizations like AC2.

To Noxolo, the queer community means freedom, expression, and refuge. To queer the system means creating an environment where queer people do not always have to fight for inclusion.