Africa is a very hostile place for gays and lesbians. In at least 32 African countries you can be sent to jail or a labour camp for having gay sex. In three of these countries you can be condemned to death. South Africa, with its liberal constitution and vigorous NGO sector, is a shining exception. So gays and lesbians from across the continent are making their way here to escape persecution from the state, the community and even their own families.
But upon their arrival in the country, they’ are swept up in the bigger refugee crisis facing South Africa and they have to tangle with the Department of Home Affairs. The South African Refugees Act makes provision for seeking asylum for persecution on the grounds of your sexual orientation. But many Home Affairs officials are not implementing this law and in fact, subject these people to inhumane homophobic treatment. It sometimes takes years to get an asylum hearing.
In this edition of Special Assignment we take a look at this problem and introduce the viewer to the most heartbreaking stories of people willing to give up everything to be themselves. They tell us of the challenges they had to overcome in South Africa and the dangers they face back home should their asylum claims fail.