This is the story of a young man, Jean-Pierre*, whose mother tried to kill him when she discovered he was gay.
Growing up in Central Africa, Jean-Pierre felt from a young age that he was different. Suspected by others of being gay, he was rejected and harassed at home and at school. Family members beat him regularly and – incredibly – his mother tried to poison him while he lay ill in bed. He escaped and sought help from his father and uncle, who instead forced him to participate in a ‘curative’ ritual to purge him of his homosexuality. There was nowhere to turn. No way to be safe and live a good life at home.
Unable to find protection in his home country, Jean-Pierre eventually fled to South Africa, where he lives today. Having heard that it was safer to be gay in South Africa—Jean-Pierre thought he could live freely and openly there.
Instead, Jean-Pierre has continued to suffer the horrors of both homophobic and xenophobic violence. Widespread discrimination against both gays and foreigners has prevented Jean-Pierre from finding work. Prejudice and violence have forced him to move often between residences and shelters. Sometimes he has no choice but to live on the street. Jean-Pierre has been violently attacked several times because he does not present as “masculine enough”. As he tries to navigate his own identity, and find forms of gender expression that feel right to him, threats and harassment are constant. Police protection is non-existent.
Despite these obstacles, Jean-Pierre chose to become an activist for LGBTI rights, fighting for change for future generations of people like him. It’s clear, however, that Jean-Pierre’s only hope for his own security is resettlement to a safe third country. And that is where ORAM comes into the picture.
ORAM is working hard to help Jean-Pierre successfully navigate the international refugee system so he can be resettled to a safer country. We partner with law firms to provide direct legal assistance to people like Jean-Pierre who are fleeing horrendous levels of persecution.
ORAM won’t stop until the job is done, but we can’t do it alone. In order to achieve our goals — which I hope are your goals as well — we ask for your generosity. Please consider donating your money and/or time to help ORAM make sure that Jean-Pierre and others like him find safe haven. In exchange, we can assure you that your gift, however large or small, will save lives, and help some of the most isolated and brutalized people in the world.
* Not his real name.