COVID-19 and LGBTQI people in South Africa

This campaign is being coordinated by the African LGBTQI+ Migration Research Network (ALMN), the Fruit Basket and the Holy Trinity LGBT Ministry, with the support of the GALA Queer Archive and other organisational partners

COVID-19 has had, and will continue to have, a devastating impact across communities in South Africa. A pandemic such as this only heightens pre-existing barriers to safety, security and services. A number of communities have been particularly hard hit, including the LGBTQI+ community.

As we know, certain members of our diverse community are more marginalised than others. For many, it is difficult to talk about need, let alone ask for help. LGBTQI+ people are resilient and would, by and large, prefer to have a job and to be independent and self-sufficient. Yet, with the economy scaling down, employment has become a key concern, and without a stable income and access to conventional support structures such as families, country of origin communities or religious organisations, many LGBTQI+ people are struggling to pay rent and put food on the table. Some are not eligible for state support (for example, because they are migrants or asylum seekers) while others are struggling to navigate state bureaucracy – a traumatic experience even without the added pressure of COVID-19. With scarce access to housing that is both affordable and safe, many LGBTQI+ people are slowly being driven to destitution. The reality is that, for many in our community, survival is now on the line.

We have been receiving urgent requests for crisis support. With increasing frequency, we are hearing from LGBTQI+ people who have no food, no means of paying their rent, no money for basic items (e.g. sanitary materials) and no means of accessing testing or healthcare centres. To date we have been linking people with different community-based initiatives, such as Collective Action Networks (CAN), but these services are overburdened and often ill equipped to address the unique challenges faced by LGBTQI+ people. These responses are not enough, nor are they sustainable, even with the incremental relaxation of movement restrictions. Unfortunately, the end of lockdown will not bring an end to the social and structural divides that have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis.

It is with this in mind that we have launched this campaign. We know that, as a community, our diversity is our strength; there are many among us who would like to extend a helping hand, but are unsure of how to do so. This initiative is a dynamic, community-centred approach to keeping LGBTQI+ people afloat. While this single campaign will not be able to address massive and persistent structural inequalities, it aims to offer a lifeline in a moment of crisis. It is clear that we have massive challenges ahead of us as a community, but we also have a unique opportunity to lay the foundations for the future world we want to live in.

If you cannot donate to this campaign, please consider sharing it through your networks. We are also open to collaborating with other community organisations and groups, and welcome suggestions for resources, contacts or persons in need. We are stronger together, as a community.

What will my donation be used for?

Your donations will go directly to LGBTQI+ persons in need. Priority will be given to the most marginalised, including but not limited to, LGBTQI+ asylum seekers and refugees, LGBTQI+ sex workers, and trans and intersex people.

How will my donation be distributed?

Persons seeking assistance who meet the criteria above will be provided with a R500 cash payment. While existing organisational networks will form the basis of our distribution channels, we will try our best to support any LGBTQI+ person in need.

The emergency funds are intended to cover basic needs and expenses (food, water, rent, sanitary items, transport money, emergency supplies and so on). Right now our goal is to provide immediate financial relief, not to prescribe how funds should be spent – i.e. some individuals will need food supplies, whereas others may need funds for data or transport in order to access work opportunities.

How will the money be managed?

All donations will be logged for auditing requirements, in line with South African legislation. An oversight committee is in the process of being set up and will include representative of the core partners. The committee will be able to advise on best practice for assessing requests for help and managing distribution payments.

How will I know what happened to my donation?

Updates on funds raised and distributed will be made via the social media pages of the core partners. These regular posts will provide a clear breakdown of how funds have been distributed.

A final report will be made publicly available, accounting for all funds raised and distributed as part of this emergency appeal.

What is the cost of living in South Africa?

It can be hard to know how much to donate to a campaign such as this. The following breakdown of costs is intended to provide a general sense of living.

Rent: R1500 – R3000 per month ($53 – $160)(£43-£130)
Utilities: R500 – R1000 per month ($26 – $54) (£21-£44)
1kg of chicken: R55 ($3)(£2.50)
1kg of potatoes: R20 ($1)(£0.80)
1kg of rice: R20 ($1)(£0.80)
1kg of maize meal: R20 ($1) (£0.80)
1kg of apples: R23 ($1.25) (£1)
1 loaf of bread: R18 ($0.90)(£0.70)

If you'd refer donations can also be made via paypal:

Where can I find out more about the campaign organisers?

Information on the core partners can be found here:
The Fruit Basket 
Holy Trinity LGBT Ministry 
GALA Queer Archive 

If you have any questions or suggestions please feel free to contact us:
[email redacted]

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