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Funding crisis threatens gender work

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people in South Africa continue to endure high levels of violence, discrimination and victimisation from all quarters.

This homophobia and transphobia runs the spectrum from name-calling and taunting to, all too often, brutal rape and murder. Names such as Zoliswa Nkonyana, David Olyne and Duduzile Zozo are ones we should be familiar with – each is associated with an appalling crime, each is an affront to the values of the democratic South Africa.

Sadly, for each David, Zoliswa and Duduzile, there are countless others living with the daily threat of violent death, simply because of who they are.

The Triangle Project has been part of the LGBTI community in the Western Cape for more than 20 years. In that time, it adapted to become a broad-based organisation with activists throughout Cape Town and in the Western Cape’s rural areas. Responding to the needs of LGBTI people includes dealing with high levels of violence, ensuring that LGBTI people have access to quality, nonjudgmental healthcare and mental health services to traumatised people.

Our work does not begin and end with the LGBTI community, though. In dozens of engagements each year, we work with churches, elders, schoolchildren and many others to talk about tolerance, difference and acceptance. This work is vital to changing the lives of LGBTI people in South Africa. It is part of the intersectional understanding of outreach and advocacy that informs all of our work.

Many point to the failure of the Constitution and our body of laws to offer real change and protection to LGBTI people, but these instruments remain useful in working towards a South Africa that lives up to our expectations.

The Triangle Project has worked closely with national and provincial governments to get LGBTI issues addressed in legislation, and to help craft the necessary interventions. Our work in bodies such as the national task team on LGBTI and gender-based violence and the working group on hate crimes shows our commitment to long-term engagement on these issues.

Today, the Triangle Project is experiencing a financial crisis. All this work, from direct services to community engagement and helping craft legislation, is under serious threat. It affects not just the men and women who directly rely on our services but, also, it is an important voice for LGBTI equality that could be silenced forever.

The loss of this voice would be a tragedy when so much work still needs to be done. Each person can make a difference, though. Each donation means the service and the voice continue. Each one is needed and appreciated.

Matthew Clayton is the research, advocacy and policy manager at the Triangle Project. Details to donate can be found at triangle.org.za

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