October Grantee News

Read this month’s news from our grantee partners. Aswat, Forum for the Empowerment of Women, and Sylvia Rivera Law Project celebrate their 10th anniversaries. Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-sexuals & Gays’ drop in center for homeless gays closed under pressure from city officials. And, Women’s Coalition of Hong Kong’s twelve years of organizing work has led to significant victories in Legislative Council of Hong Kong’s 2012 elections.

Congratulations on a Decade

In July 2012, FEW members and allies protested the silence about recent brutal murders that targeted LGBT persons by the Africa National Congress, South Africa’s governing party.

Three Astraea grantee partners, Aswat, Forum for the Empowerment of Women, and Sylvia Rivera Law Project, are celebrating their 10th anniversaries. We congratulate them for their groundbreaking work, and the immense contributions they have made in the past decade towards LGBTQI rights, freedom from violence, and empowerment.


Aswat is a group of lesbian, bisexual, transgender, intersex, questioning and queer Palestinian women. They establish safe and supportive spaces for Palestinian LBTQI women to address personal, social, and political struggles as a national indigenous minority living inside Israel, as women in a patriarchal society, and as LBTQI women in a wider hetero-normative culture.

Forum for the Empowerment of Women (FEW) addresses violence against lesbians, bisexuals, and transgender people in South Africa through political mobilization, brokering relationships between community members and local police and legal authorities, and increasing community visibility through events such as SOWETO Pride. FEW also leads media training for lesbian, bisexual, and trans women, and training programs in high schools to make educators aware of the needs of vulnerable students.

SRLP-image Portrait of Sylvia Rivera by Valerie Shaff.

Sylvia Rivera Law Project (SRLP) provides access to legal services for low-income transgender, intersex, and gender non-conforming people. In addition to community training and public education, SRLP tackles policy reform, and undertakes precedent-setting lawsuits to end institutional discrimination, violence, and coercion on the basis of gender identity and expression. SRLP is a non-hierarchical collective, by and for the community, that strives to maximize political voice and power while providing desperately needed services.

J-FLAG Forced to Close Center for Homeless Gays


We are saddened to learn that our grantee partner Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-sexuals & Gays (J-FLAG) was forced to close down Jamaica’s only drop-in center for homeless gays, under pressure from city officials. A testament to J-FLAG’s work, the group reported in their 2012 National Survey of Attitudes and Perceptions of Jamaicans Towards Same-Sex Relationships that “while Jamaicans continue to have strong negative attitudes towards homosexuality, one in every five Jamaican is tolerant of LGBT persons and would support an addendum to the charter of rights affording rights to the LGBT community.” Read more about the center’s closing.


Victories in Hong Kong for “LGBT Platform 2012”

Women’s Coalition of Hong Kong collaboratively developed the LGBT Platform 2012, a platform for political candidates covering 8 issues vital to LGBT citizens.

The comprehensive platform demands legislative protection around a variety of issues including sexual orientation discrimination, employment discrimination, same sex partners’ rights, domestic violence among same sex partners, LGBT-sensitive health care services, and gender equality in education.

Women’s Coalition successfully lobbied to secure full endorsement of the platform by 15 candidates and partial support from 8 candidates. Of the 15 candidates in full support, 9 were elected into office, marking the highest number of elected officials committed to an LGBT platform since Women’s Coalition began mobilizing twelve years ago with the LegCo campaign in 2000. Amidst Women’s Coalition’s efforts during the campaigns, elected official Raymond Chan became the first ever openly gay representative in Hong Kong’s 70-person legislative assembly.

Astraea Deplores Murders of South African Lesbians & Endorses NYC Vigil

The Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice mourns the tragic and senseless deaths of Sizakele Sigasa and Salome Masooa, two lesbians found brutally murdered on July 7, 2007 in South Africa. We learned of this tragedy through a statement issued by the Joint Working Group.

Astraea sends our deep condolences to the family and friends of Sizakele and Salome. Their brutal and senseless murders reflect a climate of vitriolic hate, contempt, harassment and deadly violence experienced by lesbians in South Africa and around the world on a daily basis. Joining with activists the world over, we demand an immediate and thorough investigation into these ruthless crimes.

We applaud the Joint Working Group for its creation of the Campaign 07-07-07. The Campaign is an alliance of fifteen non-governmental organizations (several of which are current/past Astraea grantee partners) which aim to raise consciousness of South African leaders and local communities about the violations against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people. We stand in solidarity with their August 9th Soweto protest-action highlighting the impact of hate violence against lesbians in South Africa.

As we at Astraea move forward, the brave lives of Sizakele and Salome will fuel our work. Their memory, and the memory of so many others lost to bigotry and violence, will ensure that we continue to fight for and attain a just and peaceful world for everyone.

Information on New York City Vigil: On Tuesday August 14, 2007 from 4:00 PM to 6:00 PM, members of the US-based Liberation 4 all Africans committee will hold a vigil to protest the increasing rate of hate crimes against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender (LGBT) and HIV/AIDS activists in South Africa, and its prevalence throughout the continent. The protest will occur in front of South African Consulate, 333 E 38th St. (between first and second avenues).


Gender DynamiX

Gender DynamiX is a long-standing national and regional advocacy organization by and for trans people.

Gender DynamiX is a long-standing national and regional advocacy organization by and for trans people. Gender DynamiX’ long term goal is to ensure that diverse trans and intersex people are able to live openly, without obstruction, and in dignity by being able to equitably participate in the social, political and economic spheres of society. Over the last four years, they have engaged in advocacy campaigns to enforce Act 49 (the existing legal gender recognition law), increase access to healthcare, education, and accountability for violence against trans communities. They now have an opportunity to refocus efforts on redrafting South Africa’s gender recognition law to fully incorporate fundamental human rights for diverse trans people, which includes the right to self-identification premised on one’s right to self-determination, dignity and freedom. Over the next two years, they will build up a self-identification discourse, consolidate support amongst human rights movements, develop self-identification jurisprudence through test litigation cases and build a solid network of political and social stakeholders invested in legislative change.

Forum for the Empowerment of Women (FEW)

Established in 2002, Forum for the Empowerment of Women (FEW) is a black lesbian feminist organization that engages in advocacy, education and action.

Established in 2002, Forum for the Empowerment of Women (FEW) is a black lesbian feminist organization that engages in advocacy, education and action to ensure that black lesbians enjoy holistic freedom, wellness, dignity and bodily autonomy in all aspects of their lives. FEW is currently focused on building the Rainbow Activist Alliance (RAA), a network of 15 community based LGBTI organizations in several provinces across South Africa, collectively working to create safer communities, ensure access to appropriate public health care, ensure non-discrimination within the criminal justice system, and build black lesbian leadership. While the issue of pervasive violence against Black lesbians in South Africa has seen a increased visibility over quite a period of time, black lesbians and gender non-conforming people continue to face heightened level of violence, discrimination, marginalization and exclusion. FEW’s cultural activism, direct action and advocacy builds pressure for state accountability for this violence.