The role that families play in advocating for the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people in communities in southern Africa has not received as much attention as it deserves. Our new publication is called Roots, because of the powerful comments from some of the parents of LGBTI people that their LGBTI children are “from the same tree branch” as them, and because families enable LGBTI people to find an authentic “sense of belonging that is true to their roots.”

The paper Roots: A conceptual framework for the involvement of parents and families in advocacy for LGBTI equality and freedom in southern Africa, reports on the experiences of LGBTI people and their families in Botswana, Mauritius, Mozambique, South Africa, and Zimbabwe. It highlights the role that the involvement of parents and families can play in the advocacy for LGBTI equality and freedom in our region including suggestions on ways to empower families to promote LGBTI acceptance in their homes, communities, and countries.

For LGBTI people, the family can be the first place of rejection and damaging homophobia, transphobia and interphobia. Yet families can also be the best form of love and support that an LGBTI person can receive. Even initially hostile family members can grow to accept their LGBTI children, grandchildren and siblings. It may take time, emotional labour, vulnerability and courage for parents and family to accept their LGBTI child, however once parents and the family accept a LGBTI child, wanting the state to do the same is a natural next step.

Click here to download, Roots, by Wendy Kessman and Tahila Pimental.
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