Advancing LGBTI rights
The Atlantic Philanthropies recognised that the realisation of constitutional rights for LGBTI people would positively impact more broadly on building a diverse, democratic and inclusive South Africa. Atlantic sought to contribute to this by investing in a range of activities to achieve formal equality for LGBTI people, and to contribute to the growth of vibrant LGBTI organisations and communities across the country.
Atlantic’s support to LGBTI communities concentrated on:
- Lobbying, advocacy and litigation initiatives to secure constitutional rights and protections
- Providing legal and health services
- Creating safe spaces
- Building more representative and inclusive leadership in the organised sector, particularly in regard to race and gender
(i.e. promoting black and lesbian leaders)
- Fostering collaborations amongst diverse LGBTI organisations, activists and communities
- Raising the profile of marginal groups within the LGBTI community, in particular transgender and intersex people8
Key achievements in LGBTI rights and movement building include:
- Growth of new organisations: The existence of new community-based organisations was spurred by Atlantic’s core funding commitments to targeted organisations over an extended period. These include, amongst others, Gender DynamiX, Intersex South Africa, The Inner Circle and Forum for the Empowerment of Women.
- Legal victories: A series of legal cases resulted in changes to the law that include the right of same-sex couples to marry, co-parent and adopt; the right to access equal employment benefits and to equity in the workplace; and the right of foreign LGBTIs to political asylum.
- Increased public presence: There has been significant growth in the public profile of sexual and gender diversity. One example is the Out in Africa Gay and Lesbian film festival’s (OIA) outreach programme. Through dialogues, mini-festivals, and the provision of teaching tools to grassroots organisations, OIA expanded its reach into communities across the country.
- Building the archive: This includes the collection and preservation of knowledge on LGBTI identities and experiences in a national archive, as well as through research and publications on a range of issues related to the histories, lives and cultures of LGBTI people
- Growth in funding: Through grantmaker advocacy, Atlantic sought to expand the network of givers, and the scale of giving, to LGBTI programmes and organisations both in South Africa and the region. One example of this is the establishment of the Other Foundation. This and other efforts to grow the financial resource base, has harnessed increased donor interest and support for LGBTI-related initiatives.