New fund aims to help endangered LGBT people flee

19 Apr

From 76crimes blog article posted by editor, Denis LeBlanc, Editor

A new emergency fund is seeking contributions to help LGBT people and allies flee from “immediate threats of arrest, attacks, violence and persecution in countries where harsh laws have fostered a climate of extreme homophobia.”

A Ugandan health worker sought by police for alleged “support of homosexuality” at an HIV clinic is the fund’s first case.

The HIV clinic volunteer, Dorcas Awena, would be flown to Canada if the remaining cost of her airfare is raised, The Advocate reported.

The new Safe Passage Fund is sponsored by the longstanding Urgent Action Fund.

The announcement of the Safe Passage Fund by its sponsoring organization, the Urgent Action Fund, states that contributions “will be used exclusively for emergency support to help individuals in immediate danger seeking refuge elsewhere.”  The announcement did not mention costs of resettlement and the expenses incurred in the asylum process.

Any additional funds that are raised will be disbursed among LGBT people and activists in Uganda, Nigeria, Russia, and elsewhere seeking immediate safe passage out of homophobic environments, the Advocate article said.

The Safe Passage Fund was created more than a month after the Rescue Fund to Help LGBT People Escape Africa was launched by South Africa native Melanie Nathan, an advocacy blogger in  California. She raised $14,000 in emergency funds through an Indiegogo campaign.

That fund came under attack by several activists, including social commentator Melanie Judge, who wrote for The Guardian:

The forced flight of LGBTI from persecutory regimes will require interventions to provide places of refuge and safety. However, promoting an “escape” from Africa to “greener” US pastures, without simultaneously addressing the underlying conditions that force this migration, is dangerous and opportunistic.

Dislocated from Africa-based struggles for social justice, these feel-good interventions offer no long-term solution to the systemic issues that drive homophobia. At best they are palliative and patronising, at worst they reinforce the victimhood of Africans and the saviour status of westerners.

This is part of the logic that keeps the “homosexuality is un-African” discourse in play.

Nathan responded:

Some people have questioned the use of the word ESCAPE – concerned it taps into sterotyping views of Africa.  Allow me to explain. I have received scores of heartbreaking letters from persecuted LGBTI people who all have a common phrase:- “Please help me escape” – I am sorry to say but in the instance of this form of persecution – Africa had earned the truth! The truth being that there are thousands of Africans seeking to escape those who believe their love is “UNAFRICAN!”   Let me ask you – had Ann Frank said “Please help me escape?” Would you have denied her the use of the word?  Then why should Africans in hiding for persecution be forced to use another word?  I honor the request of the survivors of this persecution and will keep using the chosen word.

The first appeal by the new Safe Passage Fund focuses on Dorcas Awena, the HIV clinic volunteer at Gender-Equality and Health Organization (GEHO) who is reportedly facing arrest in Jinja, eastern Uganda.


Full article;


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