The Lesbian and Gay Equality Project is a non-profit organisation that works for full legal and social equality for lesbian, transgender, gay, bisexual and inter-sexed people (LGBTI) people in South Africa. The LGEP was formerly known as the National Coalition for Gay and Lesbian Equality.
We envision a society:
* Free from homophobia, hate, prejudice, discrimination, ignorance, poverty, squalor, disease and inequality;
* In which there is complete liberation from all forms of oppression, exploitation, discrimination and exclusion;
* That guarantees full legal, social, economic and political equality, citizenship, justice, respect and dignity for LGBTI people;
* That promotes and achieves sustainable social, economic and political justice for all;
* With equitable, universal and decommodified access to public goods and free basic services;
* That offers all who live in it equal opportunities to realise their full human potential; and
* With a vibrant, plural, open, participatory and people-driven democracy in all spheres of life (social, economic, political, and cultural).
The mission of the LGEP is to contribute to the building of a critical, self-aware, conscious, progressive, capable, organised and active LGBTI social force and voice that can advance the vision of a free, liberated society.
We are committed to the self-realisation of LGBTI people through the building of their grassroots social, political and economic power and movement. We promote self-reliance, accountability and sustainability of organisations so that LGBTI people organise themselves, speak for themselves and mobilise resources to support their needs and dreams.
We seek to build a diverse and plural but progressive, anti-homophobic, anti-racist, feminist, and anti-capitalist LGBTI movement in South Africa. We seek to ensure that such an LGBTI movement is part of popular struggles for the overall social, political, economic and cultural transformation of South Africa away from discrimination, exploitation, oppression and inequality.
What do we do?
We achieve our mission through the following programmes:
* Movement and strategy building;
* Policy and research; and
* Access to justice.
Our movement and strategy building programme undertakes the following activities:
* Providing political education and training to enable local LGBTI activists and organisations to develop the tools of analysis and critical consciousness required to understand the world they live in, and how to change it;
* Facilitating and supporting sustained mass participatory organising (social mobilisation) with the emphasis on local campaigns, issues and struggles;
* Equipping local LGBTI activists and organisations with the skills needed for sustained mass participatory organising;
* Enabling local LGBTI activists and organisations to build and harness their grassroots social, economic, political and cultural organisational power;
* Build the capacity of local LGBTI activists and organisations to build and sustain a wide range of alliances;
* Focusing the attention of local LGBTI activists and organisation to organise broad-based campaigns to advance LGBTI equality alongside broader social and economic justice, and building the organisational capacity of our movement.
Our movement and strategy building team works to build the political power of the LGBTI community in real ways in local areas where people stay. We provide practical, usable, in-the-trenches support to address local issues in particular hate crimes, claiming of constitutional rights, access to services, local alliance building and local social mobilisation of LGBTI people. We work side-by-side with local activists, especially in places where our involvement can make the critical difference between winning and losing. We partner with a variety of groups to provide practical in-the-trenches training and support for LGBTI political organisations, social networks, community centers and allied organisations. We work with them to develop winning campaign strategies; strengthen the capacity of organisations and build effective coalitions with other communities and progressive causes.
Our movement and strategy building programme will also experiment with key strategic over-arching projects:
* A Creating Change Retreat: a programme of critical reflection, strategic discussions, trainings, leadership development, and networking that deepens the analytical skills and builds the confidence and skills of our movement leaders.
* A Feminist Roundtable: a programme for critical thinking, drawing from feminist ideals and principles, to look at framing our alternative proposals where patriarchy, chauvinism, hetero-normativity and machismo are gaining ground.
Through these, the movement and strategy programme seeks to build the capacities and capabilities of organisations and community leaders at the grassroots of our social justice movement. Our overarching goal is to increase our enduring political power through gatherings that bring communities and movements together to strategise and network, along with a variety of trainings and leadership development that increases the diversity of our movement and builds our communities.
Our policy and research programme provides research and policy analysis to support the struggle for complete equality. We carry out research, publish briefings and working with government, trade unions, social movements, the broader human rights movement, women’s and gender equality organisations, NGOs and policy institutions to develop ideas and policy that remove discrimination and improve the lives of LGBTI people. As part of a broader social justice movement, we work to create a nation that respects the diversity of human expression and identity and creates opportunity for all.
* Our access to justice programme aims at ensuring that the Constitutional and legislative provisions in South Africa are implemented, respected and adhered too, especially by the State its organs. The programme offers LGBTI people an opportunity to challenge impunity as well as building awareness among LGBTIs and the broader society on disregard to the rule of law and rights recognised and protected in our statutes. The programme uniqueness will be that of providing a safe space for LGBTI people to seek assistance without the fear of stigma and shame in relation to oppression, discrimination and exclusion experienced. The programme will facilitate strategic litigation that will link with social mobilization for achievement and enjoyment of all human rights.
What do we believe?
As lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people we have the right to live our lives free from violence and discrimination. Our constitution guarantees it.
The protections contained in the Constitution did not get there by luck or chance; it took the hard work and careful strategy of many LGBTI activists. Many legal victories followed because of the principles of equality, dignity and non-discrimination. While we must claim and enjoy our constitutional rights and legal victories, we must not forget that for many of us these rights have not had a significant impact on our lives. Too many of us continue to be violated, tortured, raped and murdered because of our sexual orientation, gender and race.
Even the most progressive laws and policies are rendered useless in the hands of homophobic and prejudiced state officials. Recently we have heard homophobic statements being made by political and religious figures. The rise in fundamentalism – across all religions does not bode well for building a society based on respect for the human rights of all people, irrespective of sexual orientation. And we must remember that even the Constitution can be amended.
We therefore believe that the roots of homophobia, discrimination and oprresion of LGBTI people stems from wider societal oppression, exploitation and marginalisation that shape the core foundations of our society. In particular, we are critical of the roles played by our past and present of patriarchy, gender oppression, social conservatism, slavery, colonialism, apartherid and capitalism. All these produce a society in which homophobia, hate, discrimination and oppression can thrive with ease. It is therefore not sufficient for us as LGBTI people to have a constitutional right to equality without addressing the fundamental drivers of our oppression and discrimination.
We align ourselves with progressive organisations and social movements which represent the interests of poor and working people that are committed to challenging homophobic, patriarchal, sexist, racist, exploitative, neo-liberal and exclusionary policies and practices in our country and globally.
We oppose all forms of violence against LGBTI people, women and children.