Chikalogwe, ‘A Double Challenge’, 2018

Subject Area

Sexual Orientation/Sexuality
Gender Identity
Human Rights







Year Published



Victor Mdluli Chikalogwe, ‘A Double Challenge: LGBTI Refugees and Asylum Seekers in South Africa’, Perspectives: Political Analysis and Commentary, Heinrich Böll Foundation, Issue 2, October 2018, 24-29


Following the end of apartheid in 1994, South Africa has seen a large influx of refugees and asylum seekers from across the continent. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), South Africa received the highest number of asylum seekers in the world between 2006 and 2011, the majority of whom origi-nate from countries like Zimbabwe, Somalia or the Democratic Republic of Congo. South Africa’s 2011 census, which provides the most recent official figures, found that there were about 2.2 million immigrants living in the country, representing 3.3 percent of the total population.South Africa’s generous legal provisions, which guarantee all asylum seekers the right to work and reside legally in the country while their papers are processed, its relatively large and modern economy, and its progressive constitution make it an at-tractive destination. This is also true for African lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people who seek to escape criminalisation and victimisation in their home countries. South Africa’s post-apartheid constitution was the first in the world to outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. However, peoples’ experiences on the ground are often much less favourable. Over the past decade, anti-immigrant sentiments have flared up across the country in form of large-scale xenophobic attacks, most notably in 2008, 2013 and 2015. The department of home affairs, responsible for immigration matters, is crippled by the lack of a coherent migration policy, poor management and corruption. Victor Mdluli Chikalogwe of People Against Suffering, Oppression and Poverty (PAS-SOP), a community-based non-profit organisation that works to protect and promote the rights of refugees, asylum seekers and immigrants in South Africa, sheds light on the challenges faced by them, and LGBTI people in particular.