Gay and Lesbian Support Group (OUT)
Vision of the Organisation
OUT is dedicated to the building of healthy empowered lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities in South Africa and internationally. OUT wants to reduce heterosexism and homophobia in society.
Mission of the Organisation
OUT work towards lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender peoples' physical and mental health and related rights.
OUT has been in existence for more than 14 years. OUT is a professional service organisation focusing on Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgender (LGBT) people. Based in Tshwane (Pretoria), OUT's work takes place on local, provincial, national, continental and international levels. OUT's focus areas of work are direct health and mental health services, research, mainstreaming and advocacy.
What does OUT do?
Given inadequate mainstream service provision, OUT provides direct health and mental health services to LGBT clients. It includes targeted HIV/AIDS work, direct health services at the OUT Clinic, a telephonic counselling and information line, a vibrant community centre, face to face counselling, community building programmes and spaces, and support groups.
OUT is also involved with various research projects, many of them in collaboration with leading national and international partners. The Advocacy & Mainstreaming Programme aims to ensure legal equality and translating this to day to day experiences. It includes law reform, sensitisation of mainstream service providers and empowering LGBT people to claim their rights,
OUT is involved in various alliance based work. It aims to address common issues taken on by progressive LGBT and gender structures.
Although Section 9 (3) of the South African Constitution prohibits unfair discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, LGBT people still face various forms of discrimination.
South African society is conservative, patriarchal, hetero-normative, and homo-prejudiced. This often results in hate speech directed towards the LGBT community and can lead to more serious offences such as the rape and murder of gay men and lesbian women.
When it comes to mainstream service providers, very few of them are aware of the needs and circumstances of members of the LGBT community and they can even refuse the provision of services. Mainstream service providers very rarely provide appropriate services (such as targeted HIV messaging), are unable to provide relevant LGBT materials to their LGBT clients, and often their policies do not include the interests of LGBT people.
Research is another area where not enough focus is given to LGBT issues. There are almost no national 'official' studies where the interests of LGBT people are included. Within the LGBT sector itself, there is limited capacity to conduct relevant research especially if the aim of the research is to obtain valid, reliable and representative data.
On one hand, there have been major legal victories when it comes to LGBT interest and issues. In 2006, LGBT people obtained the right to get married with the same status and benefits of their heterosexual counterparts making South Africa one in only five countries in the World to recognize same sex marriage. However, no governmental structures take the interest of LGBT people forward. In addition, there are a range of policies and positions which do not 'naturally' include sexual orientation issues. For example, the South African Schools Act does not specify discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Advocacy and representation remain a very important part of the work of OUT.
OUT is registered with the Department of Social Development as a Non-Profit Organisation (NPO). OUT is a member organisation of the International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA). Work is supported by the Atlantic Philanthropies, HIVOS, the Department of Health, the Department of Social Development, the Schorer Stichting, Standard Bank, the Medical Research Council, the Heinrich Boll Foundation, and the Open Society Foundation. OUT also receives money from LGBT friendly individuals. OUT plays a leading role within the Joint Working Group, a working alliance of LGBT organisations within South Africa.