From 24 – June 2019, the Other Foundation, in partnership with the Durban Lesbian and Gay Community and Health Centre and the Diakonia Council of Churches, held a religion convening, in Durban, South Africa, on the theme, Breaking through the Backlash: Transformative Encounters between LGBTI People and Churches in Africa.
With over 150 participants from secular and church-based LGBTI activists and their parents and organizations, theologians, researchers/scholars, church-based media groups, and institutional church leadership we convened to discuss ways in which to address faith-based homophobia and transphobia across a range of denominations and the ecumenical movement. Building on our previous convening on homophobia and the churches in 2016 which proliferated in many new and renewed engagements between LGBTI people of faith and their churches, this convening drew in participants from work being undertaken in east, west as well as southern Africa. We spoke to discussants about their expectations and reflections of Breaking Through the Backlash.

Some discussants spoke to us about their expectations and reflections on video, and the written feedback we have received is about how it equipped discussants with ideas and approaches to engage with an institution they felt had been closed off to them, prior to this convening:

“I learnt new ways to dialogue with the church as we have struggled before”;
“It was a mind-opening experience.”


Click the thumbnail to download the full programme.



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Click the thumbnail to download this event’s evaluation.




The second day of Breaking Through the Backlash began with a warm and energetic welcome by the AmaGolden Zionist’s youth music and dance group.  We recorded all the plenary sessions at Breaking Through the backlash: Transformative encounters between LGBTI people and the churches in Africa to allow broader participation and engagement beyond the convening which was at full capacity.

Please click the respective thumbnail for each plenary session below, to watch a video of the discussion that transpired.



Breaking Through the Backlash: Transformative encounters between LGBTI people and the churches in Africa



Reading the signs of our times




Analysing progress and backlash in the churches in Africa




Interpreting the backlash and building progress


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Breaking the backlash at its source: Redesigning theological education for inclusion and dignity of LGBTI people



Transforming backlash into breakthrough: Strategies to seize the moment




Service of confession and affirmation




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A regional dialogue of more than 100 participants from 13 countries representing interested church groups and LGBTI organizations was convened to explore and assess current church-based approaches to affirm the dignity of women and men who are homosexual, as well as transgender and intersex people, and to counteract homophobic social attitudes.

The convening enabled practitioners in the field to collectively reflect on their current strategies while in conversation with engaged individuals from within the churches.

Participants included representatives of church-based LGBTI groups, interested ministers from local congregations and church leadership structures, leaders of ecumenical organizations, representatives of LGBTI community groups who want to engage in dialogue with church groups, scholars from academic and theological institutions, and a few interested donors. The outcomes of the convening will inform the future programming of the Other Foundation and some of the other donors who will be present.

Click here to view the programme of the convening.

Click here to see a graphic run-through of the process of the convening.

Click the thumbnail to download a copy of the scoping study Silent no longer!, by Masiiwa Ragies Gunda.


Click the thumbnail to download a theological perspective on re-imagining engagement between churches and LGBTI groups on homophobia in Africa, When faith does violence, by Gerald West, John Kapya Kaoma, and Charlene van der Walt.


Click here to see the list of participants in the convening.


A downloadable written report of the dialogue can be found by clicking here.

We have also uploaded footage of the plenary sessions, which can be viewed on our YouTube channel. Click on the links below to watch recordings of the key plenary sessions.





Welcome, introductions, and statement of purpose.




 Expectations of the meeting from participants.






Engagement of the churches in reflection and action on homophobia in Africa: A status report.   A presentation by, Masiiwa Ragies Gunda.




Learning from practice: What are we learning and where are the fault lines?





What types of engagement are happening now? What is working and what is not working?



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Reality check: Living vulnerable lives. A drama performance by the Gay & Lesbian Network Drama Group.



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When faith does violence: Re-imagining engagement between churches and LGBTI groups on homophobia in Africa.   A presentation by, Gerald West, from the Ujamaa Centre.




Finding a shared language: What are we really talking about?





Pride or prejudice: Where should we focus our efforts? A reflection by, Isabel Phiri, from the World Council of Churches was followed by a panel discussion.


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Are we going in the right direction? Where are the organizational, knowledge, opportunity and strategy gaps that we should address to deepen engagement? 





Gearing for action: Pathways to progress. 






Summary of outcomes by listening group. 





The inaugural lecture in memory of Eudy Simelane, the South African national football star whose life was taken because she was lesbian, was hosted by the Ujamaa Centre at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. Click on the links below to watch key inputs from the event.



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Eudy Simelane: A Life Cut Short. A video documentary on the life of Eudy Simelane.



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Inaugural Eudy Simelane Lecture by Justice Edwin Cameron. [/ezcol_1half_end]


Click here to see how the participants evaluated the convening.







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