Gay and Lesbian Network provides food parcels to LGBTI youth

Gay and Lesbian Network staff with food parcels

In the spirit of Pride Month, the Gay and Lesbian Network (GLN) is distributing food parcels to 100 LGBTI youth and LGBTI headed households in Estcourt and Pietermaritzburg.

The COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown has caused major havoc in the lives of all South Africans; people have died due to the coronavirus, businesses have closed down and there has been an increase in unemployment.

GLN explains that it has identified LGBTI individuals in KwaZulu-Natal who are unemployed and in dire need of food and support during the lockdown.

“LGBTI individuals who are forced to stay at home during the lockdown experience abuse and violence towards them,” said GLN Director, Anthony Waldhausen. “It has been reported that during the lockdown the rate of physical and violent abuse has increased substantially for women and LGBTI people.”

GLN recently assisted a young lesbian who was at risk at home and assisted her to get support at a local women’s shelter. She is reported to be safe and doing well.

Tracey Sibisi, programme coordinator at Gay and Lesbian Network said: “We have seen so many LGBTI youth that are unemployed and in dire situations where they experience much hunger as most LGBTI persons and their families live in extreme poverty.

“We hope the food parcels will be able to sustain them for a few months but more needs to be done to assist LGBTI people to gain some form of employment. We are also assisting LGBTI people who are unemployed to access the relief grant from the government.”

Waldhausen said: “We would like to express our sincere thanks and appreciation to the Open Society Foundation of South Africa for generous donations to make the food parcels possible. The COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown has affected GLN as we normally work in communities and had to work remotely.”

He added: “We will be developing a strategy to adapt to the challenges we are facing due to the pandemic and will look at alternative ways of working so that we can continue to provide support and services to LGBTI youth in rural areas of KwaZulu-Natal. We also need to develop long-term strategies to ensure food security in South Africa.”

The Gay and Lesbian Network is a registered non-profit organisation based in Scottsville Pietermaritzburg. For more information, visit www.gaylesbian.org.za.

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