This Short Film Explores The Challenges LGBT Refugees Face Living In South Africa

“Treat me as a human being, consider me as you would consider yourself,” African refugee Albert Kafuka asks in a new video documenting the continued fight against the discrimination and harassment of LGBT asylum seekers in South Africa.

1. Many LGBT Africans seek asylum and refuge in South Africa, where the constitution – put into effect in 1996 by President Nelson Mandela – promises equal rights to all.

2. A new video from Atlantic Philanthropies, a foundation focusing on human rights around the globe, shows that despite written law – tolerance and acceptance do not come easily.

3. BuzzFeed has an exclusive look at the video, which features several LGBT refugees currently residing in South Africa.

4. Albert Kafuka, a refugee from the Democratic Republic Of Congo, felt that he would be better protected in South Africa than in his own country.

5. He soon discovered, like many others, that LGBT asylum seekers often continue to experience harassment and violence inside the country.

This discrimination and violence stems from the same homophobic sentiments from which they originally fled. Often, they are even targets of sexual violence.

6. When Junior Mayema first went to the Department Of Home Affairs, the receptionist questioned how she could possibly be “Congolese and gay?”

8. The film was made in conjunction with the PASSOP organization – (People Against Suffering Oppression and Poverty) – another group working to provide support for gay refugees.

9. According to the organization, their work has increased the number of refugees served in Cape Town’s Home Affairs office from 20 each day to over 200.

10. Their aim is to empower LGBT South Africans to advocate for their own rights.

Flavina, a Burundi refugee, is shown below.

11. The video closes with a call for continued action and support:

13. Atlantic, a limited life foundation, is in the final stages of its grant making and will close its doors completely by 2020.

Martin O’Brien, Senior Vice President for Programmes at Atlantic says: “The most important tool LGBT South Africans have is a voice—a voice to express their concerns, a voice to fight for what they believe in and a voice to help other members of the LGBT community. PASSOP, through its work with Atlantic, is one of many organizations on the ground that help give South Africans that voice. Those groups are reason for real hope and optimism, and we expect this work to grow and continue.”

14. Watch the full video here:

For more background information on Atlantic’s work with LGBT rights, you can look at their case study examining the challenges queer South African youth face.

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Sarah Karlan is the Deputy LGBT Editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Sarah Karlan at
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