Now one of the longest-running LGBT groups in the country, OUT was launched on the cusp of the new South Africa. Initially a loose network of individuals who wanted to make a difference, it’s become a respected professional organisation and a model for many community groups.
Today, OUT runs a clinic in Hatfield, offering its clients – who are often discriminated against by mainstream service providers – numerous health and psychosocial services, such as HIV and STI prevention and treatment, and counselling. Other crucial work is training mainstream service providers, largely in the health field, to meet the needs of LGBT clients.
The organisation further has a proud history of lobbying for legal reform and ensuring justice for LGBT people in South Africa. This includes being instrumental in the successful campaign to legalise same-sex marriage in 2005 and working with civil society and government against the ongoing scourge of hate crimes. OUT’s groundbreaking research assessing the needs of LGBT people was also the first such research ever undertaken in South Africa.
“It’s been a very rewarding 21 years. We have accomplished so much; research-wise, providing services, and ensuring long-term and paradigm-shifting legal reform,” comments OUT Director Dawie Nel.
“We’ve seen South Africa move from so much promise in 1994 to current-day incompetence and arrogance. But it will change again; there are many positives in this country that will once again set the tone. Our work offers many lessons; the value of consistency, of community involvement and development, and the values of equality, integrity and dignity. We look forward to the next 21 years!” exclaims Nel.
The statistics speak for themselves. Since launching its professional services in 2006 OUT has:
- Provided clinical services – including HIV testing, medication and other medical and sexual health services – to over 7,000 people.
- Provided face to face and telephonic counselling and support to over 10,000 individuals.
- Trained over 8,000 nurses, doctors, psychologists, counsellors and other service providers on the unique needs of the LGBT community.
- Reached almost 33,000 people in diverse communities with support, information, safer sex packs and flyers through its peer outreach workers.
- Distributed literally hundreds of thousands of condoms, lubrication packs, dental dams and HIV and STI awareness pamphlets.
- Informed and advised over 248,000 people through its sexual health websites, launched in 2010: www.men2men.co.za and www.womyn2womyn.co.za.