PRESS STATEMENT | LHR an GDX launch #BreakingBorders&Binaries campaign

Date: 31/03/2023

Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR) and Gender Dynamix (GDX) have partnered to raise awareness and bring to the forefront the various levels of discrimination suffered by transgender and gender non-conforming migrants (stateless people, asylum seekers, refugees, documented and undocumented) residing in South Africa. #BreakingBorders&Binaries is a campaign that raises awareness on the rights as enshrined in South Africa’s Constitution and policy frameworks that offer protection and inclusion to migrants, which include documented and undocumented refugees and asylum seekers. These rights include but are not limited to, the rights to recognition based on their social status; freedom of expression and association; safety and security; equality before the law; dignity; legal (gender) recognition; birth registration healthcare and education, amongst others.

The South African constitutional and legal framework expressly recognises and protects Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, Queer (LGBTIQ+) people, including LGBTQI+ migrants.  Yet, despite this, the lived experiences of transgender and gender non-conforming migrants demonstrates high levels of intolerance, discrimination and human rights violation where the perpetrators include law enforcement agents and immigration officers and police.

Transgender and gender non-conforming migrants are doubly marginalized and at risk for stigma, discrimination and violence because of their gender identities, sexual orientation and sex characteristics on one side and their documentation status on the other. Transgender and gender-nonconforming migrants face discrimination, harassment and marginalisation from community members and government officials; hate speech on social media platforms. They are subjected to xenophobia, transphobia, hatred, and are victims and survivors of hate crimes.

It is for these reasons that LHR and GDX have partnered on this collaborative campaign titled #BreakingBorders&Binaries. The campaign not only highlights the challenges faced by transgender and gender-nonconforming migrants but also call on South Africa to ensure that LGBTQI+ migrants are able to obtain status in the country to obtain basic services and have appropriate and dignified access to justice, where this is not happening. The campaign will cover how status and basic services are denied to migrants which results in difficulties accessing healthcare, including gender affirming healthcare, education and employment. This also include drawing attention to the procedural delays, ineffective and lawless policing and prejudice from officials that worsens the situation.

Aside from highlighting the challenges experiences by LGBTQI+ migrants, this campaign will also seek to educate the public and dispel various assumptions made about migrants to promote respect, protection and social inclusion. The campaign is also a Call to Action for the South African Government to develop and significantly strengthen its approach to receiving and welcoming migrants into the country in a dignified way; and to ensure that especially Home Affairs, Police and Law Enforcement Officials undergo training to enable this.

With the recent developments in Africa, especially East Africa, it is evident that more LGBTQI+ people will migrate from their countries of origin because the human rights situation, as a result of political, legal and social shifts in the environment, have become life threatening. The new anti-LGBTQI+ law in Uganda and political scapegoating of LGBTQI+ people in Kenya will undoubtedly result in the forced migration of LGBTQI+ people. This media campaign thus calls on the South African Government to be open, ready and willing to provide a safe space and assist with the dignified integration and/or resettlement of refugees and asylum seekers.

“I have suffered as a transgender refugee in South Africa and all I want is for my children who were born in South Africa, not to suffer for my sins,” said Donwell Mpofu, one of the participants in this #BreakingBorders&Binaries media campaign. Brave stories such as that of Donwell Mpofu reminds us of the hopes and dreams that our migrant siblings carry with them from their countries of origin to South Africa. It calls upon us to respond through a shared sense of humanity to create a country and a world in which all people can live without fear of stigma, discrimination and violence regardless of their social and identity status.

The campaign will run for four weeks, every Tuesday and Thursday, from the 31 March to 30 April across LHR and GDX social Media Platforms.

For further information, please contact:

For Lawyers for Human Rights

  • Andile Msane, Candidate Legal Practitioner: Statelessness Project,
  • Thato Gaffane, Candidate Legal Practitioner: Refugee & Migrant Rights Programme,

For Gender Dynamix

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