The free service, based at OUT’s Pretoria office and funded by the Open Society Foundation for South Africa (OSF-SA), aims to provide legal advice, resources and information to members of the LGBTI community.
The Love Not Hate Legal Clinic is staffed by Moude Maodi-Swartz, a Paralegal who is pursuing her Bachelor in Law at the University of South Africa. OUT also has access to various legal services and works closely with other human rights NGOs, law firms and the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development.
“Due to the high rate of injustices against the LGBTI community, OUT has identified a dire need for this kind of service,” says Maodi-Swartz. “We aim to empower and encourage LGBTI individuals to take action against perpetrators using legislation and human rights mechanisms that they are entitled to.”
While the clinic will not offer services such as litigation or representing clients in court, it will provide the following to those affected by LGBTI discrimination, human rights violations and hate crimes:
• Legal advice to LGBTI individuals on discrimination and hate speech
• Advice and support to survivors of LGBTI hate crimes / gender based violence
• Advice on labour-related LGBTI discrimination
• Advice on civil unions / same-sex marriage
• Legal advice to LGBTI asylum seekers
• Referrals to other legal and related services
• Accompanying survivors to report cases to police
• Assistance with completing application forms / statements to report cases
• Assistance with lodging complains with the SA Human Rights Commission and the Equality Courts
• Case and court monitoring
• Providing psychosocial support to survivors
According to a 2016 report by OUT and Love Not Hate, 44% of LGBT people surveyed said they had experienced discrimination due to their LGBT status in the previous two years. The report also found that 88% had not reported these incidents to the police. This could be due to fear of secondary discrimination by the police and being unsure of how to seek justice and secure their rights.
“Many victims of LGBTI hate crimes do not even bother to report these offences to the police as they have little faith that something will or can actually be done,” says Johan Meyer, Health Manager at OUT. “With this legal clinic service, OUT hopes to increase the number of cases reported to the police.”
The Love Not Hate Legal Clinic operates Mondays to Thursdays, from 09:00 – 15:30, at the OUT office in Hatfield, Pretoria. The service can be provided face-to-face to those in the Gauteng area or telephonically / via email to others around the country.