Evaluation of the Rights of LGBTI Youth and non-discrimination in Southern Africa

About the publication

  • Published: August 2015
  • Series: --
  • Type: NGO reviews
  • Carried out by: International Law and Policy Institute (ILPI), Oslo, Norway
  • Commissioned by: SAIH
  • Country: South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe
  • Theme: Human rights
  • Pages: 33
  • Serial number: --
  • ISBN: --
  • ISSN: --
  • Organization: Norwegian Students’ and Academics’ International Assistance Fund (SAIH)
  • Local partner: Gay and Lesbian Memory in Action (GALA), GALZ – Association for LGBTI People in Zimbabwe, Gender DynamiX (GDX), Sexual Rights Centre (SRC), Transbantu Association Zambia (TBZ)
  • Project number: QZA 12/0822
NB! The publication is ONLY available online and can not be ordered on paper.


In 2010 SAIH decided to start a program supporting the rights of LGBTI youth and inclusive learning environments. The programme was later called The Rights of LGBTI Youth and Non-Discrimination in Southern Africa.

It aims at contributing to strengthening the human rights situation for LGBTI youth in Southern Africa and Latin America. This will be achieved through capacitating young human rights defenders and LGTBI organisations, develop documentation and research, and strengthen integration of sexual orientation and gender identity within the education sector.

The programme started with two partner organisations, GALA in South Africa and GALZ in Zimbabwe and a very limited budget. It was gradually scaled up, and in 2014 the programme had grown to include 5 partners in South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe. A partner in Nicaragua was also included in 2014, but was not part of this evaluation.


The main purpose of the evaluation was to document outcomes of the programme in the period 2010-2014, and to be a learning document for further development of the partners’ projects and the SAIH programme.

The scope of the evaluation as set out in the Terms of Reference was as follows:

  • To document results achieved in the programme period 2010 – 2014.
  • To assess the relevance of the support to the specific organisations and projects in relation to the political, social and economic context, including access to funding and sustainability.
  • Assess the relevance of the programme and each partner’s work in terms of the human rights situation in the region.
  • To assess SAIH’s added value in supporting the realisation of rights for LGBTI persons.
  • To give recommendations to SAIH and partner organisations for strengthening the programme and the partner organisations’ projects.
  • To identify unintended consequences, positive or negative, of programme implementation.


Qualitative analysis of written documentation of the partner organisations’ activities and development, qualitative interviews, focus group discussions, observations in partner organisations’ offices.

All partners and a total number of 44 people were interviewed, both staff and participants/beneficiaries of the various projects.  An initial literature review was conducted, assessing the SAIH programme proposal and application, partner organisations’ project applications and annual reports, and publications produced as part of the organisations’ implementation of the programme.

Interview guides and a sample of interviewees were prepared prior to fieldwork, which was conducted in the following locations: Lusaka (Zambia), Bulawayo and Harare (Zimbabwe) and Cape Town and Johannesburg (South Africa).

Key findings

Key findings on the programme level are as follows:

  • Given the intolerance and discrimination that LGBTI youth in the region experience, the programme is definitely relevant. The programme has helped bring young, black LGBTI persons to the fore, thereby dismissing myths that LGBTI persons are not African. The programme has also facilitated the dissemination of information on sexuality in general and on sexual orientation and gender identity issues in particular.
  • The programme has in particular contributed to empower LGBTI youth. The programme has given the LGBTI youth insight in their rights and identity, leading to enhanced self-esteem and better confidence. This has in turn enabled the LGBTI-youth to become important and active change-agents, advocating for LGBTI rights.
  • The programme structure has been flexible and empowering for the partner organizations. Given the particular sensitivities and additional challenges that come with working in the area of LGBTI rights in Southern Africa, it has been necessary for the partners to design and shape their programmes according to their individual contexts. The programme was sufficiently flexible for the partners to do this.
  • Another major outcome of the programme has been the provision of safe spaces for LGBTI youth through the existence and operation of the included organisations. This is a core strength of the organisation, but also a strain on resources, as lack of core funding for the organisations is a problem.


The main recommendation on the programme level is for SAIH to further facilitate collaboration between its Southern African partners, both within and beyond the LGBTI programme, the main purpose being to ensure LGBTI rights are integrated into the work of all SAIH partners in the region. Another recommendation was for SAIH to increase support to the organisations for the provision of safe spaces for the communities, as this is a current strain on the operation of the organisations and on implementation of specific activities.

The evaluators provided a set of recommendations on a country level as well.

South Africa: expand availability of resources for both GDX and GALA. GALA should consider providing an online index of its archival holdings. GALA and GDX should consider increasing their outreach to CSOs in rural areas. GALA and GDX should consider parents as target groups in some of their activities.

Zambia: TBZ should consider expanding its reach outside Lusaka. TBZ is recommended to be more “outward facing”, and increase its collaboration with other civil society organisations. Increase involvement of target group in planning and implementation of activities, to empower beneficiaries and make the projects run smoother. TBZ is finally recommended to discourage unqualified and unassisted hormone replacement therapy, and to closely monitor members seeking hormone therapy.

Zimbabwe: Increased outreach to rural areas for both organisations. Digitalization of books and material to reach youth who are afraid of using the organisations’ services; A balance needs to be struck between security concerns and the need to make information electronically available. SRC is recommended to undertake more comprehensive baseline surveys to inform its programmes (failure to implement last project with SRC is the main negative finding in the report). GALZ is recommended to increase its capacity to provide counselling for its members. GALZ and SRC are recommended to improve collaboration between them.

Comments from the organisation, if any

All organisations have to some extent started to implement some of the recommendations made in the evaluation. Regarding geographic scope, it is assessed that this is more relevant to the Zambian and Zimbabwean organisations than the South African ones, due to different contexts and priorities.

TBZ and GALZ have in 2015 increased their presence outside the capital cities. GDX is already involving parents as a target group for their activities – this is a realisation they have come to independent of the evaluation.

SAIH is continuously working to integrate human rights for LGBTI people and non-discrimination in its other programs, but notes that this is demanding and still a work in progress.

SAIH further holds that the organisation already provide significant core support to a number of the partners in the program, and with the current budget allocations, it cannot further increase support to the organisations, as recommended by evaluators in light of the importance of the “safe spaces provision”.

Published 31.05.2016
Last updated 31.05.2016