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New Clinic report finds that South Africa’s LGBTI refugees and asylum seekers suffer from widespread economic injustice

New York, NY (November 18, 2013) – LGBTI refugees and asylum seekers often experience widespread employment and housing discrimination, community intolerance, and police indifference and abuse in South Africa, finds a new report co-authored by the Walter Leitner International Human Rights Clinic of the Leitner Center for International Law and Justice and People Against Suffering, Oppression and Poverty (PASSOP), a South African nonprofit that advocates for refugees and asylum seekers.

Released today, “Economic Injustice: Employment and Housing Discrimination Against LGBTI Refugees and Asylum Seekers in South Africa” documents how, due to homophobia and xenophobia, LGBTI refugees and asylum seekers often find themselves jobless, homeless, abused, and without police protection or access to justice, despite South Africa’s liberal anti-discrimination and immigration laws. The report traces how systemic discrimination leaves already-vulnerable refugees and asylum seekers marginalized.

In order for South Africa to meet its human rights obligations and to conform to its domestic constitution and laws, the Leitner Center and PASSOP strongly urge the government and civil society organizations to establish LGBTI-specific education and training, reform the asylum process, and enforce anti-discrimination laws in the workplace and housing market.

PASSOP will officially launch the report in South Africa on November 29, 2013.

Recommendations include:

  • Amend the asylum seeker permit renewal process;
  • Create LGBTI-focused training programs for law enforcement, Department of Home Affairs officials, Commission for Conciliation, Mediation, and Arbitration officials and other government officials;
  • Develop awareness campaigns related to the employment and housing rights of LGBTI asylum seekers;
  • Develop safe shelters and housing options for LGBTI foreign nationals;
  • Enable support groups and empowerment campaigns within the LGBTI and asylum seeker/refugee community and collaboration among existing organizations and community programs;
  • Generally improve education about, compliance with, and enforcement of existing anti-discrimination laws and available remedies.

Read the report here.


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Leitner Center for International Law and Justice
Fordham University School of Law
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New York, NY 10023 USA

Email: LeitnerCenter@law.fordham.edu
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Elisabeth Wickeri
Executive Director, Leitner Center for International Law and Justice

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