Tag Archives: South Africa

Colloquium: Heteronormativity and health in education and practice


Sexual orientation and gender identity are social determinants of health for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people, as homophobia and heteronormativity persist as prejudices in society.

South Africa’s health system faces unique challenges: a quadruple burden of disease, a significant loss of health workers to other countries, challenges in health management, as well as the social context of high levels of poverty and unemployment, and a large HIV epidemic. All of these factors warrant an investigation into the health of LGBTI people specific to the South African context, to take into account the intersections of marginalised sexual and gender identities with other forms of discrimination and social exclusion. In the recent years, national health programming has included certain LGBTI identities into key policies such as the National Strategic Plan on HIV, TB and STIs. However, LGBTI people face numerous challenges in accessing health care, ranging from discrimination at the hands of health care workers to a lack of LGBTI-specific health information and resources. Initiatives that address heteronormativity in health care provision, as well as in health worker education, are urgently needed.


The aim of this colloquium is to create a platform for South African academics, civil society representatives, community representatives and practitioners to share and discuss their work and experiences in challenging heteronormativity in the South African health system.

To this end, the colloquium aims to achieve the following objectives:

  1. To identify and share existing research on health care needs for sexual minorities in South Africa, and present strategies to address these needs.
  2. To explore the impact of heteronormativity in health service delivery and in health education at higher education institutions.
  3. To demonstrate best practice, tools and methodologies in learning and teaching about non-normative sexualities and challenging heteronormativity at Higher Education Institutions and in the health system, and to identify areas for future research.
  1. To develop an agenda for socially responsive research through partnerships with LGBTI organisations to inform research, education and practice within the health sciences, and to create a network of researchers, civil society representatives and health care practitioners.


Format of contributions

The colloquium will consist of research presentations and interactive skills-building workshops. Paper presenters will have 15 mins for presentation, followed by a 5 minute Q&A session. Workshops will be 90 mins long, and cater for a maximum of 15 participants. Both formats will address one (or more) of the themes identified below. Ideally, the workshop sessions will provide more practical aspects to complement the theoretical paper presentations.

Presenters of papers should share findings from empirical research that address one (or more) of the themes identified below. Paper abstracts should be 300 words long, and follow the format of scientific abstracts (introduction – methodology – findings – discussion).

Interactive workshop sessions are meant to allow colloquium participants to enhance their skills in addressing heteronormativity in the health sciences. These could range from strategies to visibilise heteronormativity in institutional settings, to practical skills for teaching and facilitating. Abstracts for interactive workshop sessions should be 500 words long and specify the following: rationale/ background – aim – format – target audience.

Please submit your abstract by 31st March 2014, via email to



  1. Impact of heteronormativity on health and health care
  2. Strategies to address institutionalized heteronormativity in health care education and the health services
  3. Engaging health care workers around heteronormativity
  4. Heteronormativity in health care worker professional education
  5. Heteronormativity in patient health education and health prevention messaging

Papers that don’t address these specific themes but contribute to advancing the overall colloquium objectives are also welcome.



With this colloquium, we aim to create a space for dialogue and collaboration between academic institutions, civil society organisations, government representatives, and health care practitioners. The focus of this colloquium is on work around heteronormativity and health in South Africa, and we encourage contributors to share practice-related aspects of their work.

The colloquium will have space for 35 participants. Preference will be given to presenters of workshops and papers. If you would like to attend without presenting, please contact us and explain

–          Why you would like to attend,

–          How it will benefit your work, and

–          How you would share the conference outcomes with your network(s).

People who identify as non-heteronormative are especially encouraged to apply.


Registration cost

Registration for the colloquium will be free of charge. We will not be able to provide financial support for travel to or accommodation in Cape Town, but we will provide information on affordable accommodation near the colloquium venue.


Deadlines and notifications

31st March 2014: Deadline for abstract submission for individual presentations and workshops

18th April 2014: Notification about acceptance

1st May – 31st July 2014: Registration (this is required for accepted presenters and workshop facilitators)

15/ 16th August 2014: Colloquium in Cape Town


For more information and conference updates, please visit our website:, or email our conference email address (


We are looking forward to receiving your contributions!


Dr Alexandra Muller & Dr Chris Colvin

School of Public Health and Family Medicine

University of Cape Town


Next week will see the final lecture in the Who do you think you are? Lecture Series on Wednesday 23 October, 1.30pm, Umthombo U11. Gabriel Khan will deliver this lecture, titled Youth Speak Out: A Strategy to Strengthen the Rights of LGBTI Youth in Southern Africa – please find the abstract below.


Youth Speak Out: A Strategy to Strengthen the Rights of LGBTI Youth in Southern Africa


Gay and Lesbian Memory in Action (GALA) is a South Africa-based centre for LGBTI culture and education.

GALA acknowledges that young people are significant catalysts for change and so for the past year the organisation has been piloting a creative-based approach to youth engagement. This innovate youth program includes a number of targeted interventions including citizen journalism, youth exchanges and arts-based activism. By adopting a multi-faceted approach, GALA’s youth program seeks to actively engage young people while simultaneously empowering them with the skills to advocate for their rights and to work towards positive social transformation.

LGBTI youth in southern Africa face formidable challenges, including, among other things, limited access to services, discrimination within educational institutions, difficulty finding work, and sexual violence. The strict hetero-patriarchy of many African societies, often coupled with the idea that homosexuality is ‘unAfrican’ – a belief perpetuated by many politicians including South Africa’s own president – has created an environment in which many young LGBTI people are denied their basic rights. While nominal legal equality has been won for LGBTI persons in South Africa, the battle for social equality has only just begun, particularly for those who face multiple and intersecting oppressions. Rather than merely advocating on behalf of LGBTI youth, GALA seeks to engage them directly in the struggle for equality and to ensure that their voices are heard on their own terms.

This paper will profile and unpack GALA’s youth-based work through an in-depth case study of its Arts for Activism initiative. This project introduces participants to a range of arts-based techniques as a way of building young people’s skills around campaign building. The workshops use a participatory methodology to engage young people in discussions about human rights and to reflect critically on the challenges they face as LGBTI youth. Participants are then supported by GALA to create their own advocacy campaigns by applying their knowledge of human rights to the arts-based techniques they have learnt. For GALA, this is the most exciting part of the Art for Advocacy project: its methodology allows young LGBTI Africans to develop advocacy campaigns that specifically address the issues they face in a way that they – as young LGBTI activists – want.

As well as providing a detailed analysis of the methodology behind the Art for Activism project, this paper will present some of the creative materials and campaign strategies developed by the youth participants. The paper will thus provide a unique insight into the way in which LGBTI youth in southern Africa understand both their experiences and the myriad challenges that they face. Moreover, it will provide a fascinating glimpse into the networks and alliances being developed by LGBTI youth in southern Africa and the way in which these young activists are engaging with broader society.

The Art for Activism project, which has been successfully run by GALA within South Africa and, by the time of the conference, will be extended regionally, has proven effective for fighting discrimination, promoting equality and increasing visibility.

Wits Rising!

The Faculty of Humanities at the University of the Witwatersrand calls on students and staff to stand up against gender-based violence. Globally, 1 in 3 women on the planet will be beaten or raped during her lifetime. In South Africa, it is reported, that a woman is raped every 26 seconds. 1 in 3 women and 1 in 6 men are likely to have experienced rape. Gender-based violence of a physical, sexual, emotional and economic nature is used against heterosexual women as well as members of the LGBTI community. This Valentine’s Day (Thursday 14 February 2013): women globally, and those who love them, will be joining together to walk, dance, rise and demand an end to violence against women and children. Stand up, and be counted, as part of the Wits Rising and the 1 Billion Rising Campaign by observing a minute of silence now, joining us at the Library lawns at 1.15 and joining the events at Constitutional Hill at 4.00pm.

(sent by Nicoleen P.)