People’s Power: supporting grassroots activism to create safer communities for LGBTI people in South Africa

The promise of South Africa’s new constitution which disallows discrimination on the basis of race, gender and sexual orientation, is met by the reality of country still defined by racism, sexism, transphobia and homophobia. Even in this difficult environment lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) grassroots organizations and activists resist injustice in creative and inspired way. In this multimedia presentation, I draw upon my work as an activist and programme officer at Hivos South Africa. I will unpack the use of creative human-centred methodology dubbed People’s Power to build grassroots networks and empower local organisations. This EU-funded project is currently implemented nationally in South Africa (see for more details: My analysis is based on an extensive mapping exercise of LGBTI grassroots organising in South Africa, video interviews with participating activists, reports from participating LGBTI grassroots organisations and feedback from participating organisations and activists. The presentation aims to ask three critical questions: (1) What possibility does the People’s Power project offer to LGBTI grassroots organisations and activists? (2) What are some of the challenges experienced by LGBTI people in South Africa? (3) what are some of the strategies used, by LGBTI grassroots organisations and activists, to make their communities safer. In reflecting on these questions, I will explore the intersectional nature of struggle in South Africa, the need to multi-actor yet context-appropriate responses to issues facing communities and the role of grassroots actors in creating sustainable and safer localities.


Gabriel Hossain Khan . Hives South Africa .

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