Gateway Health Institute, a South African not-for-profit organization, is now extending it services to LGBT immigrants seeking asylum in South Africa through its new program.
The NGO through its ‘LGBT Asylum Assist’ program provides exclusive support to asylum-seeking LGBT persons who have fled their home countries to resettle in South Africa.
Gay and Trans persons upon arriving in South Africa will need to go through a rigorous process to attain a ‘legal refugee status’ of which they will need to acquire a section 22 permit, unfortunately, this doesn’t recognize the person as a legitimate asylum seeker, as it merely gives them the right to stay for three months, and must be renewed after that. This continues until the person is invited for a ‘status determination hearing’, and if they are proven to be genuine, they will be legally recognized as a refugee and can then apply for official identification papers and travel documents. After which they will need to wait for a period of five years before they can be naturalized as a South African citizen.
Navigating life in a new environment is expected to be very challenging – worse still for LGBT persons who face hostility. According to the organization, there have been several reports that LGBT persons seeking legal refugee status in the country receive “humiliating treatment and discrimination by officials at the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) as well as demanding bribes of more than R3000 to issue a Section 22 Permit”
So therefore in a bid to curb this situation, the NGO through this program assists with obtaining section 22 permits, expediting “status determination hearings” through legal assistance.
It also provides safe accommodation for at least 2 months or until employment is secured, support and resources to enable refugees secure employment, funds for transportation, feeding, printed CVs, teaching interview skills and assistance with suitable clothing or uniforms if needed.
Gateway in a chat revealed to NoStringsNG.com that there are currently 12 LGBT refugees from Uganda, Nigeria, Malawi and Zimbabwe who could not obtain Section 22 Permits due to corruption, and that through the program, they have been able to assist them.
In overall, 13 individuals have all benefited from the program since its implementation in February this year.
The organization hopes to get more funding to enable them continue to help more people.
To learn more about Gateway Health Institute, click here.