New York, NY (April 10, 2013) – Students and faculty in the Walter Leitner International Human Rights Clinic (Leitner Clinic) at Fordham Law School recently returned from fieldwork in Cape Town, South Africa, where they are working with People Against Suffering Oppression and Poverty (PASSOP) to document housing and employment discrimination against LGBTI refugees and asylum-seekers in South Africa. The Leitner Clinic has recently learned of a violent homophobic assault against one of PASSOP’s members and calls on Cape Town law enforcement to investigate reports of this attack.
On April 1, PASSOP member Albert (last name withheld), a South African resident and gay asylum-seeker from the Democratic Republic of Congo, was violently attacked and evicted from his rental home by his landlord’s relatives in Cape Town. Albert, who has repeatedly suffered discrimination due to his LGBTI and asylum-seeker status, was hospitalized for severe head injuries following the attack and is now homeless.
Homophobic and xenophobic discrimination against the LGBTI refugee community persists in South Africa, despite the nation’s progressive legal framework regarding sexual orientation and gender identity. “Albert’s story is profoundly disturbing in both its violence and its common nature—LGBTI refugees in South Africa regularly experience human rights violations,” notes Prof. Chi Mgbako, the Leitner Clinic’s Director.
Discrimination against LGBTI refugee and asylum-seekers in South Africa also greatly impacts their housing and employment opportunities. “Because refugees and asylum-seekers like Albert are in such a vulnerable position, they are often forced to pay higher rent, live in cramped and dirty conditions, hide their sexuality and gender identity, and live under unfair tenant rules,” says Guillain Koko, PASSOP’s LGBTI Refugee Advocacy and Support Project Coordinator. “Homophobic treatment of tenants in South Africa is unacceptable, not to mention illegal,” adds Koko.
The Leitner Clinic calls on Cape Town law enforcement to investigate this recent assault.