October Grantee News

Read this month’s news from our grantee partners. Aswat, Forum for the Empowerment of Women, and Sylvia Rivera Law Project celebrate their 10th anniversaries. Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-sexuals & Gays’ drop in center for homeless gays closed under pressure from city officials. And, Women’s Coalition of Hong Kong’s twelve years of organizing work has led to significant victories in Legislative Council of Hong Kong’s 2012 elections.

Congratulations on a Decade

In July 2012, FEW members and allies protested the silence about recent brutal murders that targeted LGBT persons by the Africa National Congress, South Africa’s governing party.

Three Astraea grantee partners, Aswat, Forum for the Empowerment of Women, and Sylvia Rivera Law Project, are celebrating their 10th anniversaries. We congratulate them for their groundbreaking work, and the immense contributions they have made in the past decade towards LGBTQI rights, freedom from violence, and empowerment.


Aswat is a group of lesbian, bisexual, transgender, intersex, questioning and queer Palestinian women. They establish safe and supportive spaces for Palestinian LBTQI women to address personal, social, and political struggles as a national indigenous minority living inside Israel, as women in a patriarchal society, and as LBTQI women in a wider hetero-normative culture.

Forum for the Empowerment of Women (FEW) addresses violence against lesbians, bisexuals, and transgender people in South Africa through political mobilization, brokering relationships between community members and local police and legal authorities, and increasing community visibility through events such as SOWETO Pride. FEW also leads media training for lesbian, bisexual, and trans women, and training programs in high schools to make educators aware of the needs of vulnerable students.

SRLP-image Portrait of Sylvia Rivera by Valerie Shaff.

Sylvia Rivera Law Project (SRLP) provides access to legal services for low-income transgender, intersex, and gender non-conforming people. In addition to community training and public education, SRLP tackles policy reform, and undertakes precedent-setting lawsuits to end institutional discrimination, violence, and coercion on the basis of gender identity and expression. SRLP is a non-hierarchical collective, by and for the community, that strives to maximize political voice and power while providing desperately needed services.

J-FLAG Forced to Close Center for Homeless Gays


We are saddened to learn that our grantee partner Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-sexuals & Gays (J-FLAG) was forced to close down Jamaica’s only drop-in center for homeless gays, under pressure from city officials. A testament to J-FLAG’s work, the group reported in their 2012 National Survey of Attitudes and Perceptions of Jamaicans Towards Same-Sex Relationships that “while Jamaicans continue to have strong negative attitudes towards homosexuality, one in every five Jamaican is tolerant of LGBT persons and would support an addendum to the charter of rights affording rights to the LGBT community.” Read more about the center’s closing.


Victories in Hong Kong for “LGBT Platform 2012”

Women’s Coalition of Hong Kong collaboratively developed the LGBT Platform 2012, a platform for political candidates covering 8 issues vital to LGBT citizens.

The comprehensive platform demands legislative protection around a variety of issues including sexual orientation discrimination, employment discrimination, same sex partners’ rights, domestic violence among same sex partners, LGBT-sensitive health care services, and gender equality in education.

Women’s Coalition successfully lobbied to secure full endorsement of the platform by 15 candidates and partial support from 8 candidates. Of the 15 candidates in full support, 9 were elected into office, marking the highest number of elected officials committed to an LGBT platform since Women’s Coalition began mobilizing twelve years ago with the LegCo campaign in 2000. Amidst Women’s Coalition’s efforts during the campaigns, elected official Raymond Chan became the first ever openly gay representative in Hong Kong’s 70-person legislative assembly.